After pulling bid request, York City tries again to find Ice Arena management

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Ice Arena

With the York Revolution's contract to run the York City Ice Arena winding down, city officials are taking a do-over as they try to find the troubled rinks' next manager.

The city has created a committee to expedite a new Request for Proposals (RFP), which will seek bids to manage the arena before the baseball team's contract ends in September.

An earlier request for bids was pulled this summer, less than a month after it was published, because it lacked clarity, said Chaz Green, the city's deputy director of public works.

More:York City seeking proposals for ice arena management

"We wanted to clarify language and let those interested know that we're weighing all sorts of options," including renting or leasing the facility, he added.

That task now falls to the committee, which is composed of the city's public works department, business administration and mayor's office.

"Initially, we didn't clarify or get the information out that we wanted to," Green said. "We want to make sure this RFP is special and that we do this right. It's very important, and we don't want to limit ourselves."

If the new RFP doesn't lead to a new contract by the September deadline, the possibility of extending the contract with the Revs remains in the city's arsenal, he added. 

Green declined to give an estimated timeline of when the new RFP is expected to be published or how long a possible contract extension with the Revs would last.

City spokesman Philip Given said additional details of the RFP will be weighed "through the exploratory process" carried out by the committee.

Given added the city "would welcome" the Revs to apply to once again manage the facility.

Eric Menzer, president of the Revs, said they didn't bid on the RFP due to it being pulled, but the company most likely will place a bid when new request is released.

"I suspect we will bid unless there is something in (the new RFP) that would cause problems," Menzer said. "However, we'll continue to manage it until they get through their process, and we will certainly be cooperative with whatever they would like to make it run smoothly."

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

More:York City Ice Arena: 'Problems from day one'

Menzer, the city's economic development director at the time the bond was issued, was among the most ardent supporters of building the arena.

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

The bond was supposed to be paid off by 2021, but City Council members voted last year 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.

Investigation: The arena's debt isn't the only reason the facility has made headlines, as an investigation by the York City Police Department also came to light last year.

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 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."

That same day, Sept. 5, York City's public police log shows that a detective met with city solicitors Jason Sabol and Donald Hoyt at City Hall "in regards to a theft that occurred at the York City Ice Rink."

Authorities said in June that the investigation was still underway. York City Police Chief Troy Bankert didn't respond to phone calls this week regarding to current status of the investigation.

Also, an independent audit of York City's finances released late last year 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.

Asked to explain the apparent irregularities in the documents, Menzer declined, citing an ongoing police investigation involving the York City Ice Arena.