Changes in Bay Arena man­age­ment

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NICHOLAS MERCER

The Town of Bay Roberts is set to take over oper­a­tion of the Bay Arena. The 30-plus year-old fa­cil­ity has been run by the Bay Arena As­so­ci­a­tion since 1985. There is still some house­keep­ing items to take care off, but the town should take over soon.

It’s the end of an era in Bay Roberts.

Af­ter more than three decades, the Town of Bay Roberts will be tak­ing over full con­trol of the Bay Arena. It’ll re­place the Bay Arena As­so­ci­a­tion that han­dled op­er­a­tions at the fa­cil­ity since it opened its doors in 1985.

“We’ve come to the point now where ma­jor de­ci­sions have to be made,” said Mayor Philip Wood. “The sta­dium is 32-years-old and it needs an in­fu­sion of money for ma­jor projects. There’s no doubt the sta­dium is a very im­por­tant part of our com­mu­nity and pro­vides plenty of recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Thus, we have no choice but to put some money into it to keep it go­ing. The town re­al­izes this and the town has to in­vest some big bucks into it.”

The move comes af­ter a mo­tion was passed at the May 24 reg­u­lar Bay Roberts coun­cil meet­ing. At that meet­ing, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Nigel Black rec­om­mended that the town will not “del­e­gate authority to run the fa­cil­ity to the Bay Arena As­so­ci­a­tion and fur­ther to that the town will take over op­er­a­tions im­me­di­ately.”

The mo­tion was made by Deputy Mayor Walter Yet- man and sec­onded by Coun. Dean Franey. Af­ter some brief dis­cus­sion, it passed unan­i­mously.

For Bay Arena board of di­rec­tors chair­per­son Ed Neil, news of the im­pend­ing takeover was not a com­plete sur­prise.

“It was a lit­tle bit of sur­prise, but it was not un­ex­pected to tell you the truth,” he said.

Neil was a mem­ber of the board since its in­cep­tion, serv­ing as chair­per­son for the last 10 years.

“It was am­i­ca­ble,” he said. “The boys are happy enough to know it is in good hands. We con­tin­ued on for 31 years. That’s a long time. It’s some­thing that I’m go­ing to miss. “There are no re­grets.” The move is one that moves with the times. It’s commonplace to see towns own­ing and op­er­at­ing sta­di­ums across the prov­ince.

“The best al­ter­na­tive for the town was that it was owned by us,” said Wood.

Times chang­ing

Things started mov­ing this way in 2014. That’s when the board of di­rec­tors came up with a plan to re­fur­bish the sta­dium. It in­cluded re­pairs be­ing made to the roof, the floor and pip­ing sys­tem, fixed seat­ing, rub­ber mat­ting, LED light­ing, the boards and other items.

The pro­jected cost was in the range of $4.5 mil­lion.

“We started ne­go­ti­at­ing with the town as to how we could form a new model,” said Neil. “My sug­ges­tion was that we still have a board. Not nec­es­sar­ily peo­ple from the Town of Bay Roberts, but the town be­ing more of an in­flu­ence. We only con­cep­tu­al­ized this. We never had it on pa­per.”

Things were pro­gress­ing and then the De­cem­ber fire shut­down the sta­dium for months and some em­ploy­ees at the sta­dium voted to union­ize. Those fac­tors sped up the process a lit­tle bit.

“It was very am­i­ca­ble. I was very pleased with the way it was ac­cepted,” Neil said of the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

That’s when the board was in­formed mem­bers of coun­cil thought it was pru­dent to as­sume com­plete con­trol as soon as pos­si­ble.

Neil brought that back to his board.

I con­vened a meet­ing of the whole board and, you know, the board it­self was unan­i­mous," he said. That's the way our agree­ment was struc­tured and we felt, for the most part, that most sta­di­ums in the prov­ince are run by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

"It only make sense." Wood com­mended the board for its work over the years.

“The board has rolled with the punches and kept it on an even keel," said the mayor.

The plan is for sta­dium em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing the rink man­ager and op­er­a­tions su­per­vi­sor, to re­port to recre­ation di­rec­tor Ian Flynn. he would then fol­low the chain of com­mand to Black and then Wood.

The next step will be dis­solv­ing the board of di­rec­tors. There is no time­frame for that.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

The Bay Arena in Bay Roberts is fall­ing un­der own­er­ship of the Town of Bay Roberts.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

Bay Arena As­so­ci­a­tion board of di­rec­tors chair­per­son Ed Neil.

PHOTO BY NICHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.

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