Changes in Bay Arena management
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.
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.
The Bay Arena in Bay Roberts is falling under ownership of the Town of Bay Roberts.
Bay Arena Association board of directors chairperson Ed Neil.
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.