HRC, city take hit at sports complex


It wasn't exactly the banner season Hays Recreation Commission had envisioned for the new Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex, but, all things considered, the complex's inaugural year has been a positive one.

HRC Superintendent Roger Bixenman reported highlights of the first season to Hays city commissioners at Thursday's work session. Among those highlights, he pointed out some economic impact survey information gathered by Jana Jordan, Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau director.

"To me, it's quite impressive that total teams' expenditures were about $108,000 and fans and families were about $209,000," Bixenman said. "I think there were about 30-some teams we didn't get responses back from out of the 88 teams that had come to Hays."

Commissioners reviewed the 2012 Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex financial report that showed a loss of $28,803. The city's contract with HRC states the entities will conduct a joint meeting to discuss the financial profit/loss of the facility for the year.

Although he said he "would be lying if I told you we weren't a little disappointed" in the number of teams that traveled to Hays during the season, Bixenman was quick to point out Ben Moeckel, sports complex director, had developed an extensive contact list they envision will grow each year.

Challenges for the complex's staff included battling drought conditions during the summer and incurring start-up costs for new maintenance and concession equipment.

"I think we learned a lot on how to manage a complex," Bixenman said. "I think we'll get better each and every year.

"I think we had an outstanding year and the teams that were traveling to Hays were just amazed at what we had here."

To Mayor Troy Hickman, who said he spent several days each week at the complex last summer, the number of local youth teams and league teams from out of town using the facility also was important.

He said he would like to have economic impact survey information gathered from league players as well as tournament participants.

City Manager Toby Dougherty told commissioners the financial situation of the sports complex will be evaluated after its third year.

"Hopefully after that time, we'll have a good indication of what this can actually generate for revenues with all the start-up costs out of the way," Dougherty said.

Bixenman also reported to commissioners on 2012 finances for Hays Aquatic Park. By contract, the city agreed to split deficits at the aquatic park with HRC. According to a reimbursement request from HRC, that amount is $6,344.

In other business, commissioners:

* Discussed a resolution to establish a benefit district, engineering services agreement and change order request for the 46th Street Second Addition. Commissioners will vote on the resolution at next Thursday's meeting.

* Were given details of the 2013 street maintenance program by I.D. Creech, public works director. The program will be voted on next Thursday.

* Discussed the 2012 boundary resolution.