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Pa. ice rink's revenues are falling short of projections

November 09, 1999|By DON AINES

ZULLINGER, Pa. - Revenues for the Doris I. Billow Ice Arena have not met projections, but it is not on the verge of closing, according to L. Michael Ross, president of the board of directors for Cumberland Valley on Ice.

"At this point the rink is functioning and every expectation is that it will continue to function," Ross said Monday.

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He said there are no foreclosure proceedings against the rink, contrary to rumors.

"To suggest we are making a ton of money would be misleading," Ross said.

While revenues for the $3 million facility have fallen short of projections, "they have increased annually," he said.

He said business is running about 20 percent ahead of last year, when there were 65,000 customers between July 1998 and June 1999.

Ross confirmed the rink missed several mortgage payments this year but said "We are working very closely with our lender, F&M Bank, regarding the financial position of CVOI."

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Cumberland Valley On Ice is the nonprofit corporation that owns and manages the 38,000-square-foot rink.

The Chambersburg, Pa., bank holds two mortgages on the rink totaling $1.85 million, according to court records.

The late Doris Billow left more than $500,000 in her estate for an ice rink to train figure skaters, part of which was used to purchase the 8.25-acre site for $199,000.

The rink also received a $250,000 grant from the state and an earlier fund-raising campaign brought in more than $250,000, Ross said.

"The rink start-up has not been unlike many business start-ups in that there have been ups and downs," he said. "Our projections on construction and start-up costs were somewhat understated and our operating costs were more than we projected," he said.

"We came out of the chute without the operating reserves we anticipated," Ross said.

Ross said he is scheduling a meeting of the 15-member board next week to review the results of a "capital campaign feasibility analysis."

The board hired National Community Development Services of Atlanta, Ga., to canvass regional businesses and community leaders to determine the level of support for another fund-raising campaign.

"In my opinion, there have been significant problems with management," said Meredith Williams of Hagerstown. She said she supports efforts to raise money for the rink, although her three children now train at the rink in Hagerstown.

"The management would not publish or stick to any schedules ... They made it extremely difficult for families to become regular users," she said.

Williams said the rink needs better marketing as well.

"Apparently it's a hard business to get started," said Amelia Kasinof of Greencastle, Pa. Her 13-year-old daughter, Laura, last month won a gold medal at a regional competition in Atlanta, Ga., but has trained in Hagerstown since her coach went there in late summer.

"In any ice skating rink you've got to have a group that's going to be the backbone ... and that appears to be hockey," said Lee Bender of Waynesboro, Pa. Her granddaughter Brittany is in the figure skating program at the Billow Arena and she said she is happy with the management of the rink.

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