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More RV sites, livestreamed tournaments floated to raise revenue at Rec Complex

by Tia Lyons | July 31, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.
(News-Times file)

The El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Board heard a couple of ideas Friday that could help promote the facility and potentially bring in more revenue.

Toward the end of a regular board meeting, David Lee -- executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, who manages the complex, per a contract for services with the city of El Dorado -- shared some ideas with board members, saying that the club is looking at ways to boost revenue for the Champagnolle Road facility.

The complex is supported by the city and Union County, both of whom contribute to the facility's annual operating budget of $200,000-plus.

City and county officials have long said the complex may not become a money-maker but they can explore options to generate more income and close the revenue-expenditure gap.

That is one of the services the Boys and Girls Club has been contracted to fulfill. Promoting the facility and reeling in more tournaments are also among the manager's duties.

Complex board members have done their part by working to keep costs down.

For the past several years, the facility has consistently come under-budget on annual costs and board members have been able to use the end-of-year balance to purchase needed equipment and other services to better maintain complex grounds.

Since being selected as complex manager in 2017, the BGCE has worked to draw more and larger tournaments and other activities, including hosting its own kickball tournament.

The complex has eight fields that are used for baseball, softball and as practice for Pee Wee football teams.

Coming this fall, two new soccer fields are expected to open and help to expand revenue opportunities for the complex.

The El Dorado High School baseball and softball fields are located on complex grounds and while the fields are operated and managed separately from the complex, high school games and tournaments also bring in visitors to the complex.

Concessions, gate fees, sponsorships and field, pavilion and RV site rentals are the revenue streams that flow into the complex.

"I've been thinking about ways that we can really enhance what we have out there," Lee told complex board members Friday.

He suggested adding more RV/camping sites by using space near the Van Hook Pavilion, which sits just north of the entrance into the complex.

Eight existing RV sites are situated at the bottom of the hill from the Van Hook Pavilion and they get plenty of use, board members have said.

Reviewing a financial report for January through June, board members saw that revenue came to $9,422 for concessions; $1,380 for pavilion rentals; $6,569 for RV site rentals; and $3,300 for field rentals for the first six months of the year.

Lee said the Van Hook Pavilion, which is named for former 35th Judicial District Court Judge George Van Hook, is rarely used.

Revenue from pavilion rentals is primarily generated by a second pavilion, which is named after Mike Dumas -- a member of the Union County Quorum Court and former El Dorado mayor -- and is located on a hill, east of the Van Hook Pavilion and just northeast of fields 5 - 8.

The Dumas Pavilion is a popular spot in the county for hosting outdoor events, including kids' birthday parties, company picnics and class and family reunions.

Lee said RV sites were sold out during three recent tournaments at the complex.

He noted that people who follow youth sports teams often travel and stay in their own campers and more RV hookups at the complex would accommodate that demographic.

Additionally, contract workers who temporarily stay in town during large industry projects commonly rent RV sites at the complex.

Board member Stacy Scroggins said additional RV sites would mean more costs by having to install utility hookups, including water, wastewater and electrical implements.

"That's something we would have to look at. That's where your cost is going to be," Scroggins said.

"But if that pavilion is not being used and it's not bringing in rental fees and those RV sites can be a revenue-generator, I'm certainly willing to look at it," he said.

Lee also said the complex will host Babe Ruth Softball regional tournaments in 2022.

Greg Harrison, complex board chairman and a member of the Quorum Court, said the tournaments will include all age categories.

Lee said Babe Ruth is following a trend in which such tournaments are live-streamed online and show each field where games are played.

"That's something I want to do as more of a permanent thing for the complex," he said. "We really need Internet (service) out there."

Board members said they previously purchased equipment and by working with the city, they were able to cut costs on the project by using existing Wi-Fi routers to extend Internet access to the complex with service from AT&T.

Lee said he will discuss the matter with Robert Edmonds, director of public works for the city of El Dorado.

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