Feature Article - October 2006
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Fixtures Fixation

What to consider when outfitting sports facilities

By Daniela Bloch

Cutting costs

Calling Scrooge management: It's time to count pennies. The costs of opening, renovating or maintaining an athletic facility and all its fixins add up, but don't discourage too soon. Instead, think of ways to cut corners without losing your edge.

First suggestion: analyze the material world.

"By making the right choices on materials used you can keep cost in line," Ebel says.

So consider the surfaces and equipment types used—do any of them have a similar but less expensive option? How about synthetic vs. natural? Are there any materials you absolutely need, and if so, which ones can you omit without ruining the quality of the services you offer?

Think about maintenance as well. A surface or equipment type might cost little to buy, but consider the upkeep in the total package—is it still the best deal then?

On another note, keep track of what works and what does not work in your facility.

"Taking good notes from the year before is the first thing," says Colagiovanni about alleviating expenses. "You have to learn from your mistakes."

So keep a log, mental or tangible, that reminds you what treadmill broke, what wooden floor cracked and what flotation device was the biggest hit in the splash pool. That way, when it comes down to outfitting again, you won't be feeling deja vu come repair time.

Final advice about easing expenses: work from the inside and when necessary, do it yourself.

"We have our own mechanics," Colagiovanni says. "It's a lot easier this way than having to go through another department."

Keeping an internal work force eliminates added stress, cost and time from repairing, fixing or adding to a facility. With a dedicated team, the best quality and dedication will result.

"Prevention is important for cutting costs—we try to do as many internal things as we can," Colagiovanni says. "To save money, once, I remember, I had to paint the lines on the floor surfaces myself. But keep other things in mind, like making the goals portable, or if we have leftover paint colors, use them for summer camps."

Bottom line: Find that balance between your needs, your resources and your budget.