Sportsplex repairs keep programs running smoothly

By JAMES MITCHELL

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — Ownership and management of the Taylor Sportsplex, 13333 Telegraph, has presented more than a few challenges to city officials, but Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand said that operations continue in spite of costly repairs at the facility.

Last month the city assumed administrative responsibilities after management firm JRV Consultants vacated the complex, bringing an end to growing issues that included unpaid rent and fees of more than $80,000. The city had obtained a court order requiring JRV to settle its debt or face eviction; in early January the Ohio-based sports marketing firm packed up and left the complex.

City council approved Feb. 5, more than $30,000 worth of repairs to the facility, to emergency replacement of hot water tanks after the device broke in late January due to frozen water pipes.

Lamarand said the repair costs would be paid through the city’s Tax Increment Finance Authority, and assured skaters and hockey players that the city would maintain the schedule through the end of the season. Payroll and expenses are being met, and any profits would be set aside for future capital improvements or repairs.

“We don’t want it to be a drain,” Lamarand said. “We will not continue to run if it ever becomes a drain on the general fund.”

Management of the complex will be under the direction of city Golf, Parks and Recreation Director  Jeff Dobek, and Lamarand said that while the city remains open to selling the Sportsplex — at one time it appeared that JRV Consulting would buy the facility — he does not expect to enter into another agreement similar to what JRV had.

“We will entertain any realistic purchase offers,” Lamarand said. “But at this point we’re not pursuing any management firms to run it for us.”

All expectations are that the city will continue administering the programs, and that necessary repairs and maintenance costs won’t be an issue. TIFA funds are available for public structure repairs, and revenues from rental fees and sports organizations should allow the programs to continue without the city incurring additional debt.

“It can be a positive,” Lamarand said. “We have to look through the finances. We’ve never had the true financial reports for the Sportsplex so we don’t really know. Right now the cash flow looks good.”

JRV Consultants began managing the Sportsplex in 2011 under similar agreements the company has with the Southgate Civic Center Arena and in Melvindale. Last year JRV negotiated with Taylor officials to purchase the complex, a plan that included future construction of a restaurant and

hotel as well as possible relocation of JRV’s main offices from Ohio to Taylor.

The deal fell through when the city’s asking price of $6 million was debated; JRV claimed the property was evaluated at $4.5 million.

Other than last month’s repairs, Lamarand said the operation continues to run smooth.

“It’s going well, all things considered,” Lamarand said. “Everyone’s getting their bearings under them and the team in place has done a good job.”

      (James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

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