Ice rink in good hands, officials say

February 27, 1998


Staff Writer

The head of the Ann Arbor, Mich., firm hired to manage Hagerstown's ice rink comes highly recommended by ice rink officials across the country who have worked with the company.

Jack R. Vivian won't personally be running day-to-day operations at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex at the fairgrounds, but rink officials said he will be just a phone call away.

JRV Management Inc.'s director of office and scheduling operations, Amy Simmons, will be the on-site general manager starting Sunday, said Vivian, the firm's president.


If Washington County Sports Foundation officials run into a problem with Simmons, another manager can be brought to Hagerstown, Vivian said. The nonprofit foundation operates the city-owned rink.

"I think that having Jack Vivian and his group is an excellent choice," said Jeff Rock, an original board member for Cumberland Valley on Ice in Zullinger, Pa.

Skating is Vivian's life and he has a nationally known sports facilities management program, Rock said. Cumberland Valley hired Vivian around June 1992 to conduct a feasibility study for the group's Olympic-size ice rink, he said.

Vivian, 56, also conducted a feasibility study for the YMCA ice rink in Cumberland, Md., and helped design it.

YMCAs know how to run gyms, pools and fitness centers, but had no history with ice rinks, so Vivian was hired, said Laurie Robinson, the Cumberland YMCA's chief executive officer.

Vivian taught YMCA officials how to set up the rink and schedule programs, she said.

The YMCA only strayed from Vivian's advice a couple of times and always regretted it, Robinson said.

She attributes much of the rink's success to Vivian.

"He runs arenas all over the country and is called in often to rescue arenas in trouble," she said.

One such rescue was the Hancock Recreation Center in Findlay, Ohio.

When Vivian arrived in the late 1980s, the board couldn't show the bank it could manage the rink, much less pay the debt, said Craig Anderson, board chairman.

Once Vivian reorganized the rink's management, board members were able to show bank officials that the rink had professional management and was generating revenue, Anderson said.

The center then was able to set up separate funds for debt, equipment and an operations reserve, he said.

Al Martin, the city of Hagerstown's finance director and an adviser to the rink's board, said one key in hiring JRV was showing the financial community the rink had management with a good track record.

Board members need to secure a loan of about $500,000 from local banks to repay other loans and build reserves, Martin said.

JRV will be paid $54,000 a year or 7 percent of gross revenues, whichever is higher, for managing the local rink.

Anderson said Vivian might not be popular with some volunteers because he runs rinks with a business mind-set.

JRV manages six other ice arenas, including the Monroe Multi-Sports Complex in Monroe, Mich. JRV also helped design and build the city-owned complex, which has two National Hockey League-size rinks.

"I think we probably kept our costs down considerably on the construction and design because of their help," said City Manager Robert Hamilton.

Besides heading JRV Management Inc., Vivian founded the Sport Facilities Research Laboratory in 1989 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said Robb Dunn, project administrator.

Vivian also established the School of Ice Arena Management at the university in 1996, said Dunn, who is employed by Vivian in Ann Arbor. About 125 arena managers and people who want those jobs have taken the week-long seminar, he said.

The Canadian native holds a doctorate in educational administration and supervision from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, according to the university.

Vivian is an assistant professor of Sport Management and Communication in the University of Michigan's Division of Kinesiology, according to the university.

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