Which numbers are right?

A recent letter from a local soccer association is raising concerns over the financial numbers being used as part of the planning process for a proposed field house that would be part of the new arena complex.

While the decision to even include the field house as part of the arena complex has not been reached, Bracebridge Soccer Club President John Miller has written council a letter objecting to the projected revenue being provided by consultants of the project.

Miller says he doesn’t believe the figures being presented are accurate as the hourly rate being used for the analysis is too low.

“We believe turf revenue has been understated by around $130,000,” Miller says. “If you look at what indoor soccer facilities charge in Barrie and Bradford we would expect (annual) revenue of between $262,000 and $280,000.”

The Recreational Department is projecting $86,300 in rubber floor revenues vs $28,000 on turf.

Cindy O’Regan, Director of Recreation

Cindy O’Regan is the Director of Recreation for the Town of Bracebridge. She says the business plan approach for the field house was to look at it from both a user demand as well as a financial perspective.

“So it’s based on user demand and what users will pay or can afford to pay,” she says of the feasibility study numbers. “That gives you a financial performance on what the facility will operate at in an operating deficit.”

O’Regan goes on to explain that the soccer facilities Miller is referring to are run by sports organizations with a built-in user base.

“The users pay a lot more,” she concedes. “Those facilities are run by their own sport organizations, it’s not run municipally.”

O’Regan also explains that based on the lower average income of Bracebridge residents costs of municipal facilities need to be kept at a lower rate as well.

“We try to keep our rates at a (median level) so all residents can afford to play,” she says.

Miller says he believes the questions asked of user groups in Bracebridge was flawed, noting, “ A turf/rubber user group study would have given perspective and insight to potential hourly rate (as was used in the 2014 Feasibility Study) that would reflect the expenses, debt service, municipal subsidy and current market rates in other regions.”

Of possibly bigger concern to Miller and his soccer club members, is that the decision has not been finalized on what surface would be used in the field house. The choices are a wood gym floor, a rubberized surface or a turf field surface. Miller’s vote is for a turf field and his argument is a lot of the sports played on the other surfaces can be played on a turf field.

Miller quotes the Business Plan in noting the question asked of user groups was not the right one to get useful data.

Also in a number of instances, potential user groups reported a preferred hourly fee that is significantly less than that proposed by the Municipality. Since no data is available as to how a higher fee may impact potential demand/use, the lower fee as cited by specific user groups has been used as part of the analysis.

Miller responds in his letter to council, “We strongly challenge the use of this assumption and ask the question: ‘why even make this assumption within the plan?’ To move forward using research you know is incomplete and inaccurate and then basing your recommendations on it is negligent.”

Miller says a facility with a turf field will attract users from a wide area. He notes his own family travels up to three times a week to a soccer dome in Bradford.

“You know what we do while the kids are training?” he asks rhetorically. “We go do groceries and we are spending our money in Bradford.”

He contends the same type of thing would happen with a multi-use facility in Bracebridge.

The letter was introduced at the October 3rd Bracebridge Council meeting.