By Mario Pennesi
(WINDSOR, ON) – Mayor Dilkens, Members of City Council, Senior Administration for the City of Windsor:
I am writing to you as a current Board member (Treasurer) of Windsor Minor Hockey Association (WMHA), as a current coach in the WMHA, as a parent, and as a past player in the WMHA (I played house league hockey for 4 years).
The potential conversion of Adie Knox Herman Arena as proposed in your 2015 Operating Budget makes no sense and is flawed.
As Treasurer of WMHA, I am privy to all financial and operating documentation that involves our operations which allows me to make that statement. My statement is made without any malice towards anyone receiving this e-mail. It merely states facts which I will expand on in detail shortly.
Before I go into these details, let me explain the current landscape of minor hockey in the Windsor-Essex County area.
Currently, we have Windsor Minor Hockey, LaSalle Minor Hockey, Riverside Minor Hockey, and Tecumseh Minor Hockey all within 10-15 minutes driving distance from Windsor. All of these associations have both house league players and travel players.
Windsor Minor Hockey utilizes the following arenas for their house league and travel programs: Adie Knox, Forest Glade Arena, WFCU, South Windsor Arena; Tecumseh Minor utilizes Tecumseh Arena (2 pads); LaSalle Minor utilizes Vollmer Centre (2 pads, with 1 pad also utilized by the LaSalle Vipers Jr. B hockey club); Riverside Minor utilizes 2 of the 3 community rinks at WFCU. The WFCU bowl is also used by WMHA and Riverside, but is also leased by the Windsor Spitfires OHL club.
Other minor hockey centres within Essex County include Belle River (Lakeshore), Amherstburg, Essex, Southpoint (Leamington/Wheatley). Each of these centres have their own arenas. All of these centres are categorized as either AA or A centres.
We also have two AAA centres, Windsor AAA Zone and Sun County. Windsor AAA Zone’s home centre is Central Park Athletics (CPA). Sun County’s home centre is Essex Arena.
The WMHA currently has a contract for the rental of ice at Adie Knox (Contract # 95746) which runs from Sept 2, 2014 to March 30, 2015. The total contract is $172,575.75. We pay $162.00 per hour taxes included (soon to be $169.00 for the 2015-16 season). The total number of hours rented for this period is 1,065.28 hours ($172,575.75 divided by $162.00 per hour). We have approximately 1,000 registered players in the WMHA.
The WMHA has the following questions that need to be answered based on the Jan 7, 2015 Windsor Star article written by Mary Caton.
To: Jelena Payne
1) You indicate in this article that there is available ice at CPA and at the new Atlas Tube Centre in Lakeshore. Are you aware that CPA is a private sector facility in Windsor?
Are you aware that the hourly ice rental rate is $168.00 per hour, $6.00 more per hour than Windsor’s rate?
Are you saying that the parents of the hockey team that I coach should continue to pay taxes towards Adie Knox, but be shuffled off to play hockey at a private sector facility with higher hourly ice rates which will cause their registration rates to increase?
Are you suggesting that the parents of this team play their home games at the Atlas Tube Centre in Lakeshore as opposed to playing in Windsor where their hard earned property tax dollars are utilized?
And, by the way, the hourly ice rental rate to play in Lakeshore is expected to be $200.00 per hour for the 2015-16 season as confirmed by the Treasurer of Belle River Minor Hockey.
2) You indicated that other user groups want more facility space. Do you have a contractual commitment from the roller derby associations and lacrosse associations to spend $172,575.75 at Adie Knox for the 2015-16 season?
To: Councillor Elliott
1) You like the idea of roller derby right? Did the e-mail you received from the roller derby advocate propose to spend $172,575.75 at Adie Knox for the 2015-16 season?
To: Jan Wilson
1) You noticed ice usage that has opened up. Where?
Why would we be forced to run our Midget house league program out of CPA at the aforementioned hourly rate above, after Windsor Arena was closed?
Windsor Arena is where we housed our Midget program and we are now paying approximately $21,469.80 to run it our of CPA plus we were forced to raise the registration rates for these particular players by $20.00. Do you not think it would be in the City’s and the WMHA’s best interests to move that program to Knox to cover your proposed $54,000 in savings to convert Knox into a non-ice facility?
The problem is we can’t because we don’t have the required ice for that program.
2) Dean Lapierre is correct in saying that we may have to run practices at 6 or 7 a.m during the week. When I played minor hockey, there was only one pad at South Windsor Arena and we practiced at that time, so he is not exaggerating when he says that is a possibility.
3) Where will you accommodate our 1,065.28 hours of ice which will be displaced from Knox?
WFCU? Not possible as Riverside Minor has two dedicated rinks for their programs, and rightfully so. That was what they received when Riverside Arena was closed to make way for the building of WFCU.
Tecumseh? Not possible, that is where Tecumseh Minor plays hockey.
LaSalle? Not possible that is where LaSalle Minor plays hockey plus the LaSalle Vipers.
Belle River? Sure, let’s send Windsor Minor players on the EC Row for a 25 minute ride to Lakeshore to play hockey. Just wondering which team will claim to be the home team when a Windsor travel team plays a Belle River travel team.
4) For your information, here are the hourly ice rates to play in other centres for 2015-16: LaSalle ($201.00 per treasurer of LaSalle Minor); Tecumseh ($182.00 per treasurer of Tecumseh Minor). The WMHA rate will be $169.00 per hour for 2015-16.
Quite a difference don’t you think?
5) The Windsor AAA Zone pays $190.00 per hour to play at CPA ($200,000 for the 2014-15 season), based on a long-term lease agreement they entered into with CPA.
Do you think the Zone, if they had a choice, would have preferred to play at a City of Windsor facility at a much reduced hourly rate? The reason they can’t is due to a lack of ice time to run their program.
6) So at the end of the day, where is all the excess ice that you and Jelena are talking about?
To: Tony Ardovini and Onorio Colucci
1) Your budget detail document (page 236) is incorrect and will not result in operational savings of $53,646. You indicate operational expenses saved in the amount of $183,631 offset by loss of rental revenues of $129,985.
How is the loss of rental revenues $129,985 when we have a contract for ice as stated above for $172,575.75?
In addition, there is no concession revenues lost of $9,250 because the City closed the concession stand last fall.
When you factor in the corrected amounts, the operational savings amounts to a cost of $4,130 to convert Knox. In addition, what about the lost revenues for our Midget program ($21,469.80) which could be used to recover costs if Knox were to remain open and we could find a way to bring it back to Knox?
2) The $50,000 capital costs for HVAC are not the only capital costs to account for. As Dean Lapierre mentioned in the Mary Caton article, the WMHA moved it’s board room to the north end of Knox a few years ago to accommodate the potential twinning of Knox. This cost was borne by the City of Windsor.
The WMHA will require a new board room with administrative offices no different than what we have today. Have you taken into account these added capital costs?
To: Helga Reidel
1) In the Mary Caton article, you indicated that services have not been cut to residents. If these parents of the players I coach are forced to play at a facility outside of Windsor, where they pay property taxes, do you still hold to that statement?
To: Mayor Dilkens
1) In the Mary Caton article, you indicated that, “we’re holding the line on taxes for the seventh straight year”. While that is honourable and speaks well of your and Eddie Francis’ commitment to keep taxes frozen, I sincerely believe this will be the last year.
The parents of the players I coach are taxpayers. When they have to play our national game outside of their own city facilities, travel up the EC Row and. on top of that. be subjected to higher user fees in other facilities, I suspect they may not agree with your statement.
Rather than convert Knox to a non-ice facility, serious consideration should be given to doing the polar opposite. Twin the arena. That is what is needed.
The demand for non-ice activities can be accommodated by twinning the arena. The blueprints are drawn up for it. Let’s do it.