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York City Ice Arena lost $114K by third quarter of 2019, documents show

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Ice Arena

The York City Ice Arena was in the hole $114,000 as of Oct. 31, 2019, potentially setting a 10-year record for annual profit loss, according to income statements posted by the city this week.

The income statements that detail losses in most of the years the York Revolution baseball team has managed the facility come just a week before the city closes its window for proposals to manage or lease the facility.

"We kind of expected (the losses) this year," Chaz Green, director of the city's public works department, said Thursday, Jan. 23. "Just dealing with some maintenance stuff this year, there were some big ticket items."

Statement details: The income statements, dating back to 2009, appear to show that the arena didn't suffer losses until the Revs took over in 2014. But that year's financial statements were never turned over to the city, said Tom Ray, the city's business administrator. 

The Revs took over management in October 2014 after the city opted not to stick with Rink Management Services, the former manager.

Revs President Eric Menzer on Thursday said he did not know why the 2014 financial data was missing, saying he would look into the matter.

Menzer also said the 2019 statements posted this week don't show the whole story, as they only cover through October, and the company hasn't yet sent the city its full 2019 financials. 

Menzer declined to comment further.

The Revs plan to make a proposal to continue to manage the facility by the Thursday, Jan. 30, deadline, Menzer has said. There are seven companies that have expressed interest in either leasing or managing it, according to the city.

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RFP troubles: Before the most recent request for proposals, the city twice failed to abide by its contract in advertising its intent to put management of the rink up for bid, triggering two consecutive one-year contract extensions for the Revs.

The contract mandates the city give the team 90 days' notice before advertising for bids. Because the city twice failed to do so — incidents City Council President Henry Nixon called problematic and York City Mayor Michael Helfrich called intentional — the Revs are locked in until July 2020. 

City officials have said opting to lease the facility would lend the city some financial relief, as it would no longer have to cover the arena's operating expenditures.

The income statements are just the most recent example of the arena's historical financial problems.

Other financial history: Menzer, then York City's economic development director, helped convince the City Council in 2001 to guarantee a $7.3 million bond to the York City Recreation Corp. to rebuild and expand the ice rink.

The corporation was handed control of the facility with the plan for it to pay off the bond with profits. Within two years, however, it had lost more than $525,000 and defaulted, forcing the city to take over.

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

York City had been paying more than $600,000 per year — including interest — toward that bond since 2003, with initial plans to have it paid off by 2021. But in 2017 the City Council voted to refinance that bond with a separate 2011 bond, extending the expected date of payoff to 2027.

Shortly after taking control of the arena, the city hired Rink Management Services to manage the facility.

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.

Management of the arena was instead contracted in 2014 to the York Revolution, the local independent league baseball team.

Dallastown vs Susquehannock during ice hockey action at York Ice Arena in York City, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Investigation: In 2017, York City Police launched an investigation into alleged employee misconduct at the facility, a probe that later was taken over by county detectives in the York County District Attorney's Office.

More than two years later, the investigation is still active and ongoing, DA spokesman Kyle King confirmed on Thursday.

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

At the same time, 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 in 2017 to explain the apparent irregularities in the documents, Menzer declined, citing the ongoing police investigation involving the York City Ice Arena.

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