City again blows York Ice Arena deadline

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Ice Arena

The York Revolution will again receive a one-year extension to manage the York City Ice Arena after York City officials blew a deadline for the second consecutive year.

York City acting business administrator Tom Ray confirmed Wednesday the city again failed to give the Revs the required 90-day contract termination notice by advertising a request for proposal to seek new management of the facility.

"Someone wasn't having their eye on the ball," said York City Council President Henry Nixon.

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Councilman Michael Buckingham echoed Nixon's disappointment, and council members Edquina Washington, Sandie Walker and Judy Ritter-Dickson didn't respond Thursday to phone and email inquiries for comment.

Yet Mayor Michael Helfrich told a different story Thursday, asserting the decision to let the RFP go was an intentional, strategic move.

The city will soon begin a capital needs assessment to, among other things, study the viability of continuing a contract like the one with the Revs, Helfrich said. Therefore, the city is letting the Revs temporarily continue management.

"The city has to make a decision whether we want to continue to have a company basically operate the ice arena for us or lease out the arena," Helfrich said. "We're always looking for more options."

Still, the extension will allow the Revs to manage the facility for two years longer than the city had originally anticipated.

To avoid the most recent extension, the city would've had to post an RFP by April. However, as the time period has already passed, it is bound by contract to allow the Revs to continue managing the arena until July 2020. 

The city is now expected to publish another request by the end of the year.

Originally, the team's four-year contract was supposed to expire last year. But it was extended through this July when the city pulled an initial RFP that would have given the Revs sufficient notice, citing clarity issues. 

The withdrawal prevented the city from having adequate time to give the Revs proper notice, leading to an extension.

York Revolution President Eric Menzer speaks during a press conference held to introduce 10,000 Acts of Kindness, a year-long collaborative effort to spread kindness and goodwill, outside of the York County Administrative Center in York City, Friday, June 29, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Revs President Eric Menzer didn't respond to inquiries for comment by deadline.

The most recent extension comes as a county investigation into alleged employee misconduct in 2017 continues, York County District Attorney's Office spokesman Kyle King confirmed, adding he can't comment on pending investigations.

City and Revs officials have been silent about the subject of the investigation, but internal emails provided to The York Dispatch by a former ice arena employee show that the timeline of the investigation coincided with the 2017 termination of the facility's longtime general manager.

Less than two weeks after the general manager was fired, Menzer emailed arena employees to let them know that "the city has decided to expand into at least a preliminary investigation by city police to determine if sufficient evidence exists for criminal prosecution of the alleged theft."

An independent audit of York City's finances released in 2017 found a lack of “appropriate controls and oversight” at the ice arena.

A separate review by The York Dispatch of hundreds of arena-related documents, obtained through multiple Right-to-Know Law requests, also showed bookkeeping anomalies.

Since 2003, the city has been paying about $600,000 per year for the arena after assuming responsibility for a $7.3 million bond it had guaranteed to build the two-rink facility.

Menzer, the city's economic development director at the time the bond was issued, supported the construction of the arena.

The bond was supposed to be paid off by 2021, but City Council members in 2017 voted to refinance it with a separate 2011 bond, extending the expected date of payoff to 2027.

When the Revs took over management of the facility in 2014, it produced nearly $90,000 in profit during the first few months, but it lost about $130,000 from 2015 through September 2017, according to income statements submitted to the city.

The results contrast with that of Rink Management Services, which oversaw the arena before the Revs.

The company, which maintains ice and related equipment at 28 ice rinks, produced more than $1.25 million in operating profits from 2004-2013, according to its proposal to keep its city contract in 2014.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.