City of Meadow Lake takes hit on ice bookings

by Phil Ambroziak

When it comes to Sundays, things have certainly cooled off at the Meadow Lake and District Arena.

The city is looking to do some readjusting following a decision by the Meadow Lake Minor Hockey Association to split ice time between the Meadow Lake facility and PineRidge Ford Place at Flying Dust First Nation. In past years, the hockey club would traditionally book ice time in Meadow Lake throughout the week, as well as on Saturdays and Sundays. This year, however, games and practices have moved to Flying Dust for Sundays, leaving little to no action at the Meadow Lake rink on those days.

“We wanted to be fair to both places,” explained MLMHA president Brad Villeneuve. “They (Flying Dust) built this rink to help us out because, in past years, we were renting ice elsewhere since there were just too many teams to be able to stay in Meadow Lake.”

This year marks the second hockey season since PineRidge Ford Place’s construction. Villeneuve said it was time the association began utilizing the new space to its fullest.

“It helps out both rinks money-wise,” he added.

The City of Meadow Lake, however, may not entirely agree with that statement.

“There definitely is an adjustment to be made with regard to revenue drop,” remarked interim city manager Richard Levesque. “The only solution is to fill those spots. We’ve already adjusted our staffing, but there are certain fixed costs that still have to be looked at.”

While Levesque was unable to provide a figure in terms of how much of a revenue drop the city is facing as a result of the MLMHA executive’s decision, Villeneuve said the city has charged the association between $70-$74 per hour in recent years.

“At Flying Dust, it’s about $85 per hour, but there is no tax,” he said. “The hours and price are pretty much the same (overall).”

On most weekends, Villeneuve added, minor hockey runs until 7 or 8 p.m.

Villeneuve went on to note, in spite of the current schedule, minor hockey won’t necessarily avoid Flying Dust on Saturdays and Meadow Lake on Sundays throughout the entire 2012-2013 season.

“When we get into playoffs, the schedule could become somewhat hectic,” he said. “We may have to use both facilities at the same time, as well as for tournaments. The big thing to keep in mind is we have guaranteed the city the hours we have booked.”

In past years, scheduled hours would sometimes be cancelled on Sundays if teams no longer required them.

“The way it is set up now, we will use every hour we have booked,” Villeneuve continued. “They (city) are getting at least 26 hours per week or 100 hours per month. I don’t think the city was too happy when this decision was first made, but because we are guaranteeing hours, it’s not so bad.”

With regard to the city’s efforts to fill the now available ice times, Villeneuve is confident this will happen.

“If we do need the Meadow Lake arena down the road for playoffs, that is just the chance we will have to take,” he said. “It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen.”

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