Ice Usage Report Missing Pieces
Here are some questions:
- When is the ice time NOT being used? This question was raised by several readers. Is it prime time ice in the evenings or weekends sitting open, or is it daytime ice not being used?
- Why is ice declining? The report lists several ideas, but it doesn’t give conclusive answers. Are people not renting due to the excessive cost of ice? Maybe, but let’s be honest, private rentals (not by organizations or regular groups) can’t be a large percentage. Is it because of our outdated facilities? Potentially a little, as many tournaments hosted in Chatham-Kent have stopped running because of poor facilities, coupled with a lack of accommodations in town.
- Does this mean no new arena? It shouldn’t. These facilities are at the end of their life cycles. A new arena should lower maintenance costs, and allow us to attract additional events, which could help fill some open voids.
- What are Wallaceburg and Dresden doing? Not all arenas saw a decline, two saw an increase. Why? If we’re trying to increase use, let’s take a closer look at numbers in Wallaceburg and Dresden, see what these communities are doing, and try to copy cat the model in other communities.
- Is it time to close a facility? Bothwell or Ridgetown should likely see their time end. These are the two least used facilities, both are old, and their use can be swallowed by Dresden and Blenheim. If someone in Toronto, or even London said they had to drive 15-20 minutes to get to an arena for practice or a game, people would smile happily. That said, the community of Bothwell has worked their tails off to keep their arena open, and have found many non-ice uses for the rink, which should 100% be considered. Kudos to them.
- What would the numbers look like without Municipal programs? The Municipality runs free skates, shinny, senior skates, and tiny tot skates, to name a few. What is the usage of these events like? Are they well attended? Are other groups unable to book additional daytime hours because these poorly attended bookings interfere?
Is there a solution here? Absolutely.
The one true fact in the report points to demographics. Population decline, decreased enrolment in minor ice sports, and an aging population are undoubtedly contributors. But not so much if question #1 regarding when ice is going unused comes back as primarily daytime.
There are likely answers to some, or most, or perhaps all of these questions, and I’d love for Council or Municipal staff in the know to help us clarify what was a speculative and incomplete report.