City to manage downtown ice rink, saving $33,000

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - When Main Street Ice returns to Columbia this month, it will be staffed by city employees, saving the city nearly $33,000.

Columbia City Council approved an equipment rental agreement with Magic Ice USA, Inc. worth $125,895 at its meeting Tuesday night.  As part of the contract, the city agreed to provide its own staffing for the ice rink, instead of paying Magic Ice to provide its own employees. Last year the contract cost $158,500.  The city saved $32,605 by providing its own management services.

This is the second season the city hosted the ice rink on Boyd Plaza in front of the Columbia Museum of art.

Despite ending its first season with a financial loss, the Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation says it contributed $165,648 to the downtown economy.  A report presented to city council Tuesday night said that each of the 13,804 people who used the rink during the 2012-2013 season added an average of $12 each to the economy.

When counting the people who did not skate, but accompanied people who did, Parks and Rec officials say the total economic impact was $198,778.

Parks and Recreation Superintendent Randy Davis told the council that because of start-up costs, the first year of operation would be the most expensive, and costs were expected to drop in the following years. He said he expected expenses to be about $25,000 lower for the 2013-2014 season, and it will need $25,000 less in support from Hospitality Tax distributions.

Davis says the department expects to increase revenue from last year.  The difference in paying Parks and Rec employees to staff the ice rink has been included in the department's budget for this year, with $50,000 allotted.

In its first year, the city spent about $210,000 to operate the rink, but it generated just $100,000 in revenue.

The city plans to host various promotional events and activities throughout the season.

Mayor Steve Benjamin told council some private sponsors had expressed interest in providing financing for the rink.

If you visit the ice rink and an employee asks you for your zip code, it's so they can use the data for economic impact studies.

Rink Hours:

Monday –Thursday, 4 - 9:00 p.m.
Friday, 4 -10:00 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.  

November 28, 5-9 p.m. to January 20, 2014.

Skating fees will remain the same as last year: $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 12 and under as well as for seniors (55+) and active duty military. Fees include skate rentals.

Copyright 2013 WIS.  All rights reserved.