A decline in revenues generated by the Timken Sports Complex is being attributed to a nearly 50 percent decrease in tournaments and increased costs resulting from greater use of it fields by local teams for practice and for games.
In a report to Union County Council detailing the “financial and operational impacts to date” of the complex’s third season, Supervisor Tommy Sinclair stated that revenues generated by and costs associated with the complex have not matched projections based on its first year of operation in 2010. Sinclair said this was due to fewer tournaments being held at the complex which has resulted in a decline in revenue when compared to its first year in operation coupled with increased use of the facility for local games and practice which caused an increase in the cost of operations and maintenance.
“Operational costs are a function of the number of practices, individual team games, and collective weekend tournaments,” Sinclair said. “Timken’s inaugural year activity was used to project $150,000 operational revenue against a $100,000 operational projected cost for the second year. From an operational perspective, cost and revenue are at best cost neutral and possibly cost will exceed revenue due to extra labor costs associated with increased games and practices. Fixed costs have increased due to increased labor, utility costs, and field maintenance supplies such as clay, chalk, replacement portable mounts, paint, etc. Current year fixed costs project to be $160,000 while current operational costs project to be $100,000 for a total of cost of $260,000.”
At the same time that costs have increased due to increased use, Sinclair said there have been fewer tournaments already held or scheduled for this year with a resulting reduction in the revenue stream generated by the complex.
“Current operational revenues are impacted by a loss of tournaments,” Sinclair said. “Last year (2011) Timken had a total of 25 tournaments of varying team numbers. Through the end of this year June 30, Timken has had a total of nine tournaments with a committed number of four for the remainder of the year for a total of 13. The number of actual or committed tournaments is cut essentially almost in half.
“For example, revenue in May 2012 is $23,000 less than revenue in May 2011,” he said. “Current operational revenues are projected at $105,000.”
While the exact reason for the decline in the number of tournaments has not been determined, Sinclair said the opening of a new sports complex in Spartanburg County may be a contributing factor. Sinclair said another possible factor is the increased use of the complex by local teams for practice.
“There has been some references on the Timken website about the large amount of practices,” Sinclair said.
The possible impact of increased use of the complex by local teams on its ability to generate revenue for the county and on maintenance costs was debated by council in its deliberations on whether or not to permit that increased use.
In March, council voted 4-2 with councilman Chump Hanvey and council member Dora Martin opposed to allow the Union County High School Varsity and JV boys and girls teams to have equal opportunity to practice at the complex. The motion, which was made by councilman Ben Ivey, was seconded by council member Kacie Petrie who said that while she initially opposed the practices, she felt that fairness required allowing the JV to practice at the complex as well as the Varsity. Petrie said she’d originally opposed allowing the teams to practice because it was contrary to the purpose of the complex which was to generate revenue for the county.
Union County spent more than $6 million on the construction of the complex in order to bring more revenue into the local economy. In its first year of operation, persons from outside Union County attending events at the complex spent $1.54 million at local motels, restaurants and other businesses.
In his report to council, however, Sinclair pointed out that hospitality tax revenues generated as a result of activity at the complex had also declined.
Petrie said she was also worried about maintenance issues, pointing out that the more the fields are used, the more wear and tear there is. In addition, she said she felt it would cost the county more because county personnel would have to be on duty during the practices.
The debate over whether or not to allow the high school teams to practice at the complex and how often they’d be allowed to do so began in Dec. 2009 when council allowed the Varsity to practice at the complex for three days before the start of the season in order to familiarize themselves with the field. In Jan. 2010, Sinclair asked that council extend the practice period to include the day before a game and equalize the practice for the girls who he said had less game time. While council agreed to this, no formal vote would be taken on the proposal until Jan. 2011 at which time it was approved.
In February, council again took up the issue of allowing the teams unlimited practice opportunities at the complex. This was followed by a request from Union County School District Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall that the JV teams be allowed the same opportunities. A week later council voted to allow the teams unlimited practice at the complex.
As result, Sinclair directed county personnel responsible for maintaining the complex to adjust their schedules so as to deal with the increased use of the facility. The county personnel now work from noon-8 p.m. instead of 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sinclair said this was to prevent overtime.
Sinclair said that through Friday, June 8, the actual additional regular employee labor costs at the complex totaled $7,610. He said this figure did not include additional part-time labor costs such as concession and ticket takers.