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Posted by on in Announcements

Let’s march through MARCH!

As March rolls in most are wrapping up the peak season filled with games and tournaments galore. March is also a good time to finalize spring and summer project plans and to take a break from the action. A few days off might do every one wonders especially at this time of the year. Coming back refreshed can go a long way to reviving morale. Don’t forget about rewarding staff for their extra efforts during the grind of the season.

Many rinks have great part time staff members who work hard and close the arena at midnight many nights a week. And many have staff that open at 530am on weekends getting busy days started on the right foot. These Part Time staffers are so valuable to arena operations and to those on the outside many good part time and seasonal arena personnel often get overlooked. Rewarding these staffers can be simple like going on a paid field trip to a few other rinks and having a lunch away from the arena or inviting them all to the Spring Workshop to be able to mingle and enjoy a day with pay away from the pressures of the daily operation.

A couple items of MIAMA business of note in March.

Items of interest for the membership in march include Regional informational Workshops regarding Freon R-22 phase out on March 11th in Mankato, March 12th in So. St. Paul or March 13th in Virginia. RVSP due by March 4th. Check our website tabs to find out more. The Alan K. Payne conference Grant applications and James Padgett Award applications are due March 21, 2014 also on the website.

What’s new at Bielenberg Sports Center.

Here at Bielenberg Sports Center in Woodbury we are undergoing a number of changes. Our $25M expansion project is going through the final four month push with the targeted opening date of July 4th.

The expansion includes a hard sided field house building with a full football/soccer turfed field and 50’ ceiling ht. There will be a large new lobby space connecting the field house to the two existing ice arenas. It will have two levels with viewing into each rink and the field house. The second floor will include a full service restaurant complete with grab and go food and beverage service and a sit down sports bar with liquor limited only to a restricted area on the second floor. Also included within the expansion is an outdoor refrigerated ice rink which will have clear dasher boards and be used by skaters and hockey groups during the winter and other activities including pickle ball during the summer. The expansion is funded by the City of Woodbury and will not have additional tax payer impact. We will be certain to have MIAMA members here for tours and possibly an event at some point.

As part of our changes at Bielenberg Sports Center we welcome in two new Full Time employees, Katie Broderick is our new Facility Operations Technician, a position created when John Harrington departed in December and Shelley Cotroneo joins our staff Full Time as Administrative Assistant after serving in a part time roll for two years. We may be adding another maintenance position and various part time positions in fall 2014 as our new operation reaches peak season.

Got anything new to share?

As always if you have news for the membership or see a story that might be of interest let me know and we can turn it into a Newsblast for our membership. If you have something unique going on at your facility or in your community that lends itself for the membership let me know and I will follow up.

Don’t forget to reward your staff and enjoy the change of season if and when it comes!

Think spring!

Dave Black BSC Woodbury – Newsletter editor

Posted by on in Announcements

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Posted by on in Announcements

By Dean Mulso, Recreation Facilities Manager, City of Burnsville

Looking to increase your bottom line? Consider owning and operating your own vending machines. Whether you add candy machines or a combination of candy and hot beverage machines you should see revenues increase your bottom line.

A lot of facilities today have cold beverage contracts with a major bottler and therefore cannot add that piece of the equation to a vending contract with an outside source. Using a vending service for all beverages and candy is the only way to make money for the company and possibly for the facility. Commission rates can get as high as 35%.

If your compare using a vending service for candy and hot beverages, you can usually expect no more than 15% commission on the gross profit. In a lot of cases they will give you the commission on the net profit, even further reducing the amount of dollars you take in for allowing a company in your building and taking up valuable floor space. Why not take that space and put your own machines in and consistently see profits of 50% of the gross profits.

A major factor in operating your own machines is the initial investment. Depending on the number of machines you need to compliment your facility, you can purchase a candy machine for approximately $3,500 and hot beverage machine for approximately $5,000. In the Burnsville Ice Center’s case we purchased two candy machines and one hot beverage machine. Our purchase price was $12,000 for the all three machines. On average we see $20,000 in gross revenues annually through our vending machines and have product expenses on average of $8,000-$9,000. In one season we can pay for our machines and then continue year after year to see profits of $10,000-$12,000. If the Burnsville Ice Center chose to be on a commission with a vending company we would see $2,000-$4,000 of commissions annually. Vending machines will last many years if maintained by staff or a service company. The Burnsville Ice Center chose to replace two of the three machines we already owned and one hot beverage machines after 15 years of use.

Another factor is where do you get your product? You can use a company that delivers it directly to your facility or you can order the product and pick it up yourself. Companies that deliver are usually higher in pricing, but the upside is you don’t have to do anything but store the product and stock your machines. With facilities that have small staffs and less time to devote to machines this is a good option. Another option is to use a large membership based warehouse such as Sam’s Club. They offer online shopping called “Click and Pull”. You place your order on line and the next day you go pick up the order which is all ready for you to check out and you are usually on your way in 10-15 minutes. If you have the time and staff, this is a great alternative. The Burnsville Ice Center generally sees between $100-$300 savings on each order by using this option over our previous direct delivery provider. This savings has taken into account a mileage charge and staff time. No matter the method of purchasing your product, filling your own machines and setting your own prices, provides you totally control of product choices offered and gives you the added revenue over using a vending service.

If you do have a contract with a major bottler, make sure to negotiate your commission rates. Depending on the type of product and the style of bottle or can, commission rates vary from 10% to as high 42%. If you don’t have a contract with a bottler, seriously consider adding a cold beverage machine into your facility and sell multiple brands of product to maximize your profits. It will be easier to purchase the product directly from the bottler. The price will generally be higher than a grocery store, but you will be able to recover your costs on the retail side. Once again if you have the resources and time you can get the product from the warehouse setting.

One final advantage of owning your own machines is customer service. Staff is able to help customers immediately with any malfunctions that may occur and keep your customers happy.

If increasing your revenues is a major priority for your facility, you need to consider owning your own vending machines.

Posted by on in News

Dean,  I thought you would like to see the news about R22 from Cloquet.  As I understand there will be another in-depth story coming out soon.  I will be sure to forward it to you.   Thanks,  John Evans

                        Fox TV 21


 Northwoods Arena aging well, but cooling system will be obsolete soon

Jana Peterson

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Architect Chuck Freiberg told the Cloquet City Council he fell in love with the city’s Northwoods Credit Union Arena, adding that it wasn’t easy to find anything major wrong with the 17-year-old facility.

Engineer Scott Ward told them the ice system — the floor system is the same age and the refrigeration system is 25 years old — is one of the most efficient systems ever designed.

Then he told them that the refrigerant that powers that system (R22) will no longer be available in 2020, because it is harmful to the ozone layer and contributes to global warming.

Ward and Freiberg were hired by the city and the Cloquet Area Hockey Association to evaluate Northwoods Arena and presented their findings at the Council’s formal meeting on Tuesday. While the pair of consultants had numerous suggestions for improving the facility, the report was mostly positive … except for the problem of cooling the ice.

“We’ve seen [refrigeration systems] like yours run 40 years,” said Ward, who works for Stevens Engineering, Inc. “It’s a great system. But R22 makes it obsolete.”

Northwoods is not the only arena in Minnesota still using R22 as a coolant. And, while R22 will no longer be available in North America after 2020, the city and hockey association could theoretically continue to use R22 to cool the system as long as they have a sufficient stockpile of R22 and the system holds up (meaning there are no breaks resulting in a release of the ozone depleting chemical). Cost of R22 — which has increased in price 850 percent since 2005 — is expected to continue to rise as the chemical is phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency (as part of the Clean Air Act) over the next six years.

After Ward explained that changing the refrigeration system could mean digging up the floor of the arena and more, Councilor Dave Bjerkness asked if there was any alternative coolant that could be used in the existing structure.

Ward said carbon dioxide (CO2), which is a naturally occurring refrigerant, could be a possibility in the future and might mean less dramatic changes to the system, although current designs call for larger pipe sizes in the floor and a different header sizes at each end of the floor. An arena in Montreal, Canada, installed a direct system using CO2 during the past year, according to the consultants’ report, which suggested CO2 will likely be the next “innovation” in the ice rink industry.

Along with CO2, ammonia is another naturally occurring refrigerant being used in European countries, which phased out R22 in 2000. 

The consultants did not push the Council to immediately embark on a plan to change the cooling system, in part because new designs keep being developed.

“We recommend you try to keep the facility running as long as you can,” Ward said, estimating the refrigeration system as a whole could be good for another five to 15 years. “If you can keep it tight — meaning no R22 leaks — it should run fine.”

The report offered seven options for the ice system, ranging  from doing nothing except maintaining the existing system (estimated cost $231,000) to creating a new indirect system (using ammonia) sized for future connection to Pine Valley Ice Arena at an estimated cost of $1.94 million plus another $843,000 to actually hook it up to Pine Valley (aka The Barn). The most expensive option was converting to CO2 for both facilities, which was estimated at close to $3 million.

Other suggested improvements

Locker room amenities were near the top of the list for suggested improvements, including toilet facilities and showers. Space for visiting teams — especially the junior hockey teams — to leave equipment overnight is also needed.

Humidity is an issue in the summer, and changing the lights to LED lights would cost a lot up front, but save another 25 percent in energy costs over the existing fluorescent lights (which already save 40 percent over the previous lighting system). Freiberg also suggested building an indoor snowmelt pit and putting concrete dividers outside the side doors to stop snow from piling up there.

The roof should also be evaluated, because it is 17 years old. When it’s time, Freiberg suggested replacing the roof with a UV-resistant material, which reflects UV rays that penetrate older roofs and cause the ice to melt (or the cooling system to work harder).

“You’ve got a beautiful facility, she needs a little help so she can meet people’s expectations,” Freiberg said, marveling later at the “engineering feat” required to build the arena on what was essentially swamp land. “Beautiful sight lines, I’m sure you know that.”

The consultants did not evaluate Pine Valley, but they did walk through the neighboring arena, which is reputed to “be the coldest arena in the state,” Freiberg said, not disagreeing with that assessment.

Mayor Bruce Algren thanked the two consultants for their compliments on the arena, noting that he was heavily involved in the efforts to build it.

“You wouldn’t see a facility built like that today,” Ward responded. “It’s very nice.”

Posted by on in News

With Aging Ice-Making Machinery and Dwindling Rentals,
Minnesota State Fair to Discontinue
Winter Ice Operation at Warner Coliseum in 2014
December 17, 2013
MINNESOTA STATE FAIRGROUNDS - After 40 years on the fairgrounds, the Lee & Rose Warner
Coliseum ice skating operation will end when the current season concludes in February 2014. Today
State Fair officials outlined the two primary reasons behind the decision to close the Warner
Coliseum rink.
First, the ice plant has far outlived its expected operational life. The ice-making equipment was
originally installed in 1975, and the pipes that circulate coolant have deteriorated beyond repair. To
continue operating, the antiquated equipment would need to be completely replaced, and that option
is cost prohibitive.
Second, the Warner Coliseum currently hosts a fraction of the games that it did during its hockey
heyday. In the 1980s and early ‘90s, the Warner Coliseum was home ice for several high schools,
two universities and a semi-pro team that together played nearly 150 games per year in the building.
Since then, most of the teams left for other arenas, and the Warner Coliseum now hosts fewer than
50 games annually. Further, the demand for hourly ice rental is about one-third of what it was 25
years ago.
Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer explained, “This type of decision is never
easy, but we’ve reached the point where we are out of options with our ice infrastructure. It’s
questionable that the equipment and materials will be operable after this year, and we don’t want to
promise our client teams something that we can’t deliver. We owe it to them to give them as much
time as possible to begin preparations for next season.”
The State Fair will continue to use the Warner Coliseum on a year-around basis by expanding its
schedule of retail and special events into the winter months.
The 2014 Minnesota State Fair will run Aug. 21 through Labor Day, Sept 1.