Former York City Ice Arena manager again expresses interest, not bothered by current state
Rink Management Services, the former manager of the York City Ice Arena, is one of six companies bidding to manage or lease the facility that has long struggled financially.
The Virginia-based company managed the arena for nearly a decade, producing more than $1.25 million in operating profits from 2004 to 2013, according to its proposal to keep its city contract in 2014. The city instead opted for the York Revolution, which has been running the facility ever since.
Now, the ice rink company — one of the largest in the country — hopes to once again take over management, despite the fact the ice arena lost $114,000 by the third quarter of 2019 under Revs' management.
"We can make any building work," said RMS President Tom Hillgrove. "We're comfortable in our skill sets. We think we can get it revived and make it work. We weren't discouraged by what has transpired after we left."
The company has opted to bid to manage the facility, as leasing can be "legally complicated," Hillgrove said.
One of the company's money-making proposals is to make one of the two ice rinks at the facility a turf field, allowing for more sports, such as baseball and field hockey.
Details of the other bids remain unknown. A Right-to-Know Law request by The York Dispatch was denied on the basis that the city hasn't yet awarded a contract.
Five other companies made bids to lease or manage the facility, a process that was delayed for two years because the city twice failed to notify the Revs in a timely manner that it planned to advertise for bids:
- Atomic Bounce: A bounce house and party supply rental company in Springettsbury Township.
- Black Bear Sports Group Inc: A Maryland-based company that operates sports facilities
- JMG Hockey Inc.: A Chester County-based ice rink-management company that also has branches in other East Cost states. Locally, it's the parent company of Power Play Rinks in Chester County.
- York Revolution: Current manger of the ice arena.
- Nobadeer: A New-York based company focused on ice rink management. Little information about the company is available.
Finances: The ice arena was in the hole $114,000 as of November 2019, setting a 10-year record for annual profit loss, according to income statements posted by the city this week.
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 ice arena's financial troubles go back decades.
Revs President Eric 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 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, along with a separate 2011 bond, extending the expected date of payoff to 2027.
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.
The investigation is still active and ongoing, DA spokesman Kyle King confirmed on Thursday.
York City Police began to look into alleged theft at the facility in 2017. An independent audit of York City's finances released that year 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.
Hillgrove said the investigation "didn't play any role" in the company's decision to make a bid, and he isn't bothered about it going forward.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.