Guest Column - September 2004
Find a printable version here

Planning a Winning Facility

Inline Hockey & Multipurpose Facilities

By Heather Landreville


Maintenance

How the facility will be maintained can bring clarity to the type of equipment needed, which in turn affects the budget. The life of the facility is directly affected by the level of maintenance planned. Is this facility intended for short- or long-term use? Are there dedicated personnel for daily maintenance? Of course, outdoor and indoor facilities require different types of care. Similarly, different equipment requires different levels of maintenance.

Often, there is an exchange for the quality of product you purchase and the level of maintenance required. For example, imagine an outdoor inline hockey facility that is built on an existing tennis court surface and built from a wood frame. While the facility was able to save money by using an existing surface, and the initial cost of the wood-frame system was relatively inexpensive, the maintenance and replacement costs for that facility may be high, and the quality of play and expected life of the facility may be low. On the other hand, imagine a facility built on a concrete slab prepared for inline hockey play and utilizing aluminum-frame dasher boards. While the initial investment is higher, the maintenance and upkeep of the facility may be minimal, the quality of play will be excellent, and it may have a longer life.

So, is it wiser to spend the money upfront to reduce maintenance costs and extend the life of the facility, or is it more prudent to go with the least inexpensive start-up and plan for continued maintenance? Over the long run, return on investment may end up being the same. The deciding factor may be the quality of play intended, and the quality of play can decide whether your facility is used or not.

Budget

The last important part of planning involves the budget. Some projects begin with partial or full funds already designated, but many projects start with zero-base budgeting. In either case, the challenge in the planning phase becomes focusing on the project goals, rather than the budget dollars. It sounds a little backward, but in the end, the best return on your facility goals will come from planning your facility for success and letting the budget follow. That is not to say unlimited or unmanaged spending is recommended. Rather, if the specific goals of the facility were properly identified in the planning phase, the creating of the budget should be clearly defined by those goals.

Ideally, the resulting budget does not exceed available funds, but there are several options if the projected budget is not immediately viable. Assuming that the projected budget has already been reviewed for accuracy, one option is to go back to the drawing board and adjust the goals for the facility. Because goals had already been carefully planned, this can be very difficult—similar to rethinking a senior thesis you were ready to submit. Another option is to raise funds to meet the needs of the budget and goals of the facility. While it may seem daunting, there are a number of ways to address raising funds.

A capital fund-raising drive can be used to solicit donations for the project. The theme of the drive should focus on community goodwill and benefits, youth athletic enrichment and opportunities, and progressive relationships and efforts by the local government.

Sponsorships can provide ongoing revenue, and if pre-sold, initial sponsorship dollars may be used for development costs. By extending beyond simply selling dasher board ads, sponsorships represent a more sophisticated and valuable partnership between the facility and programs and its sponsors. Ideas for individual or packaged sponsorship opportunities include naming rights, on-site marketing or product-testing opportunities, recognition in schedules/programs, promotional inserts with registration packets, exclusive rights to jersey and vending (among other) contracts, championship or division sponsorship, dasher advertising, and more.

Call the experts

One final piece of advice for the important planning phase: Defer to the experts. Partnering with consultants or companies that understand the sport(s) involved as well as the design and construction processes will not only speed up the project but will bring a comprehensive approach to planning a facility specific to your needs. In the end, investing time and resources in planning specific facility goals will pave the way for a smooth design process and will contribute a great deal toward the success of the facility.

Heather Landreville is marketing manager of Athletica. She can be reached at HLandreville@athletica.com.