Before it does, however, there still are a few items needing to be addressed.
Union County Facilities and Airport Director Ronnie Wade and sports complex assistant director Paul Wilkes gave members of the Union County Council Committee on Law Enforcement, Judiciary and Recreation an update on where the county stands on being ready for the complex’s opening during the committee’s meeting Thursday.
They also brought a request for a part-time complex employee who would oversee the operations of the concession stand, gate workers, books and other operations of the new facility such as stocking the concession stand.
Wade, Wilkes and members of the committee — as part of an ADHOC group — have spent the last several weeks speaking with and visiting other similar complexes in the area to determine how they are operated to put together a list of practices and procedures for the Timken Complex.
The facility is a new venture for the county and officials want to be sure they have plans and funds in place to make it successful. The complex already has 34 tournaments scheduled from next month all the way through December and also will be the new playing field for Union County High School’s baseball team.
Wade said the complex will be supported by two types of funding — indirect and direct.
The indirect funding would come from the new 1 percent hospitality tax. People who come to Union County and stay at hotels, eat at local restaurants and do other shopping while here for a Timken tournament or event will contribute to that tax.
The other side is direct cash flowing in and out of the complex such as money from concession sales and other revenue generators at the facility. Wade is hoping it’s that funding the county can use to pay for a part-time employee year round.
“We need someone to supervise,” he said.
Supervisor Tommy Sinclair and Wade told committee members there’s been quite a bit of interest from the vendor approach at the park. The county has gotten requests for everything from a snowball machine to cotton candy and other culinary delights to be served out of the complex concession stand.
Sinclair said there’s interest from Union County citizens who want to support the complex but at the same time be entrepreneurs. He added, the county can’t make operations at the complex too difficult as it is competing with other similar facilities. If they make it too hard, those tournaments go elsewhere.
Committee member Tommy Ford said officials at the complexes they toured outside Union County admitted it wasn’t the direct revenue coming into their parks that supported them — it was the tourism dollars coming into their communities that made the difference.
But Wade said the complex will need to generate revenue on its own.
“We’re going to have to generate some money from concessions to operate this park,” he said.
And while Sinclair said the park isn’t generating any funding now as it has yet to open, there have been a few expenses to make sure it is operational by opening day.
The county already transferred $342,000 from the hospitality tax fund to the sports complex fund to pay for additional needs such as a PA system, fencing, balls for the pitching machines, signage and others. The total cost of those items was about $83,000 and the complex fund — as of Thursday — was at just more than $300,000, according to Sinclair.
Wade also plans to bring the committee a budget for the park — although it’s operating funds are somewhat different from those of regular county departments since they fluctuate — so members have an idea of what to expect.
The committee ultimately gave the go ahead to recommend to county council the hiring of a part-time person for the park. The decision on how much that person will make will be a decision of the finance committee.
Wade said that person needs to be hired as soon as possible as the complex is set to open Friday, Feb. 26, with Union County High’s first home baseball tournament that weekend.
He and Sinclair told the committee the county is ready now that it has information and some guidelines to go by when it comes to operating a business like the Timken Complex.
“We are not flying blind but we are somewhat feeling ourselves along,” Sinclair said.
Union County Facilities and Airport Director Ronnie Wade told members of the Union County Council Committee on Law Enforcement, Judiciary and Recreation opening day at the Timken Sports Complex — Friday, Feb. 26 — will be full of fanfare.
Guests and dignitaries involved in the grand opening of the new Union County Advanced Technology Center will be invited to lunch at the new complex. Following lunch, they and members of the public will have some time to walk around and tour the Timken facility as part of the county’s “Day at the Park.” Then, if anyone wants to, they can stick around at 5 p.m. to watch the opening game of the Union County High School baseball team’s weekend tournament.
Watch The Union Daily Times for more information on both of these upcoming events.