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Once again, ice rink tries to find management magic

October 04, 2000

Once again, ice rink tries to find management magic



The group that runs the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex last week selected a new rink director. Deborah Smith was unavailable for comment when a reporter called, so it's tough to tell if the recreation specialist can be a promoter for the rink, even as she balances the competing interests of users there.

It's no easy task, according to a number of rink managers and officials of national rink-management association The Herald-Mail spoke to last year. They told editors that unlike a bowling alley, where everyone from the greenest novice to the finest league player can compete at the same time, running a rink is a balancing act between competing interest groups.

The rink manager's top task is to balance the amount of ice time allocated to youth hockey players, figure skaters and recreational skaters. If any one group dominates, then revenues and future business may be affected.

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A good learn-to-skate program is also essential, the experts told us, because, unlike other recreational pursuits, ice skating is not something that's done on the spur of the moment.

On the plus side, because of the closing of the Doris I. Billow ice rink in nearby Zullinger, Pa., Smith should have an opportunity to recruit some skaters who might otherwise have to travel as far as Frederick for ice time. In August, Beverly Kornides, who chairs the ice rink's board, said there wasn't enough time to accommodate a second youth league there, but that requests from smaller groups could be filled.

Finally, it wouldn't hurt to do some outreach to the taxpayers who have provided about $400,000 in subsidies to the rink so far, to point out that the annual amount of the city payment has been dropping as business grows there.

Smith's job, in part, will be to convince citizens that what they've contributed will eventually make the city more attractive to others who'll bring their money here and perhaps even decide to settle here.

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