The Alpena County Northern Lights Arena ad hoc committee has determined the county only has two legitimate options as to who will manage the arena after the Park Family foundation steps away on June 30.
It can hire the Northern Light Arena Community (NLA-C) group to take on operational control, or the county can take full control of the facility and hire a manager to handle day to day operations.
During the meeting the committee reviewed the only proposal it had received pertaining to the management position at the NLA. Although the name of the group is now known as the NLA-C, members of the group are familiar to the arena and to the community. The NLA-C is according to Vice-Chairman Doug Kreis the Multi-Purpose Arena Coalition with a new name, new faces, as well as a new mission. M-PAC played a critical role in making the arena a reality and managed the arena until Park took over two years ago. Now the group and its new members want a second chance to make the arena profitable. In the proposal it says it will get commitments needed to keep ice in place throughout the year and also have the second sheet operational during the peak season. It will have a 19 member board with nine executive members who can cast votes. The group has a position for a county representative if the commissioners so choose to sit on the committee. Kreis said he knows there has been instances where things didn't go well in the past. He said the group has made adjustments to be more successful this time around and he believes it can help advance the arena.
"Obviously there is going to be work that needs to get done no matter who the new rink manager is, but we know there were mistakes made in the past and we believe we have addressed them," Kreis said.
Commissioner Lyle VanWormer said he was somewhat disappointed more proposals weren't submitted and the full board of commissioners will vote on what to do with the NLA during its regular meeting on April 30. He said no matter what the verdict is, and whoever manages the arena, this had better not become an issue again.
"The board is at an apex at this and if this doesn't work and the arena doesn't come within the confines of the financials to turn a profit of some sort then we won't address it again," VanWormer said. "We would move on to something else. The ice will go. I know I can speak for the majority of the commissioners that we are tired of dealing with this and we have a lot of other things out there to deal with, not that they are more important, but we keep having to come back to this. We will not come back again. This has got to work."
Kreis said it was a challenge to get a detailed proposal put together in only a few weeks. He said the budget was based on some estimates and that it was not possible to include a list of scheduled events. The commissioners understood and accepted the proposal, which will be reviewed by the other commissioners and then discussed during the meeting on April 30. Kreis said no matter what the county decides it will have the support of the group.
"The major challenge was coming up with a real and true budget that represents what we will actually be able to do," Kreis said. "To come up with a document, that we are pretty confident in, in just two weeks says a lot about the commitment we have. I think we gave the commissioners a good option. If we don't get the bid we are going to support the county. That is real important.We want it to succeed regardless of what decision is made to go forward."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.