OGDENSBURG — After a dismal year for the Jimmy Howard Municipal Arena, city officials are wondering whether to continue running the ice rink next year.
During the past year’s ice hockey and skating season the arena lost nearly $65,000, mainly due to rising energy prices. With attendance at the rink falling as well, some city officials have suggested removing the ice and using the facilities for other sports.
“They’ve had a deficit every year. Every year, obviously, it gets worse with the price of energy and everything else,” Parks and Recreation Director Philip C. Clemens said. “It’s one of those things where they said ‘if you build it, they will come,’ but they’re not coming to Ogdensburg.”
The arena has lost about $178,000 over the past three years, according to the Recreation Department budget. When the rink closed for the season this month, officials said the projected annual loss for the year was $64,678.
Mr. Clemens estimated that keeping ice in the rink costs $60,000 each year. Although the ice programs are important to the arena and Ogdensburg, he said it would be irresponsible to continue to run it at such a loss.
“You’ve got to be realistic,” he said. “You could use it for other events, like lacrosse, indoor soccer or other things.”
According to Mr. Clemens, the rink was open 142 days this year with about 14 hours per week dedicated to public skating, which costs 50 cents per person. Hourly group rates rose from $50 to $55 last year, but city officials said they did not want to raise the rates further.
“It was not built with the idea that it was supposed to be a money maker. These are all services we provide to the community to make it a good place to live,” City Manager Arthur J. Sciorra said, adding that City Council members “want to see increased use of the facility throughout the year and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The Recreation Department has been working on a plan to market the arena, catering to Canadian skaters, Mr. Clemens said. He has started to increase advertising and plans to sell advertising within the arena.
Hockey and skating events are hit-and-miss, he said. However, he said the number of skaters in the city has fallen drastically.
The City Council will discuss removing the ice at its meeting at 7 p.m. April 6.