Recent financial statements show that the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Board is pulling in the most revenue it ever has in its nearly 40-year history.
Complex board members noted the trend during a regular meeting Sept. 10, explaining that the gap is tightening between revenues and expenditures at the facility.
Between January and July, the complex generated income totaling $108,725 and posted $137,384 in expenditures -- a tally that reflects a $27,050 difference in expenses over revenues.
The financial report demonstrates that the complex board of directors and facility manager -- the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado -- are meeting a goal of closing the annual revenue-expenditure chasm at the complex.
The city of El Dorado and Union County each contribute to the complex's $200,000 yearly operating budget.
Since the complex opened in the mid-1980s, city and county officials have acknowledged that the facility will never likely be a money-making enterprise.
However, in recent years, the two the groups agreed that more can be done to generate to bring in more revenue.
Within the past five years, the BGCE has been contracted to serve as the manager of the complex and one of the tasks with which the club is charged is to pursue and book more tournaments and other events at the complex.
Phase one of a renovation and expansion project has been under way since late 2019 to accommodate increased activity at the complex.
The project is funded by a $2.7 million budget from the El Dorado Works tax, a one-cent sales tax that is earmarked for economic development, infrastructure and quality-of-life projects.
In 2020, the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission kicked in another $257,000 to complete two new soccer fields on the southeast end of the complex.
In addition to the new soccer fields, the first phase includes two new baseball and softball fields and the completion of two existing baseball and softball fields, all on the south end of the complex; and the installation of turf, lighting and fencing on four older fields on the north end of the facility.
Murphy USA has donated two used kiosks that will be used as concession stands to serve the fields on the south end of the complex.
The city and Union County are working to coordinate the delivery of the kiosks from Georgia with laying of the foundation and the rental of a crane to install the kiosks.
The complex board is also exploring options to add more restrooms to the south end of the complex, which is already served by a restroom facility that is adjacent to the Dumas Pavilion and includes four stalls each for men and women.
The additional restrooms will mark the final component of phase one.
Board members have agreed to monitor market trends that result from the implementation of phase one before moving on to the second phase of the master plan -- a baseball field to accommodate older teens and adults; parking lot expansion and improvements; and a recreational trail that would encircle the complex.
Earlier this year, the complex board and South Arkansas Community College entered into a facility-use agreement for the college's newly-formed baseball and softball teams to launch their first seasons at the complex.
The teams are using fields 4 (also known as the Schoolboy Rowe field) and 8, baseball and softball fields, respectively, for practices and games.
The contract went into effect May 1 and will expire May 31, 2022.
With the master improvement plan underway, the BGCE booking more tournaments, the soccer fields expected to open in the fall and the introduction of the SouthArk teams to the complex, Greg Harrison, chairman of the complex board of directors, said a third component of generating more revenue at the complex is also taking shape.
"We're also looking to bring in revenue for the city and county for hotels, restaurants and retail stores. The average family that comes to town for tournaments will spend $500 a weekend," Harrison said.
He said the complex hosted two regional and two state tournaments, both for youth, earlier this year that drew dozens of participants, in addition to several other tournaments that have been played at the complex so far this year.
"We're halfway through the year and we're at $137,000. Our revenue is quite a bit a higher than what it's accustomed to being at the complex," said Harrison.
The amount is a far cry from the $12,000 - $14,000 in revenue that was recorded for the facility between 2016 and 2018.
Harrison, who also serves on the Union County Quorum Court, said his fellow quorum court members are taking notice.
"In the words of (Union County Justice of the Peace) Johnny Burson, he said that's the most revenue (under) expenditures that he's ever seen," said Harrison.
Harrison said the city and county will evenly split the $27,050 difference between expenditures and revenues.
Income for the complex also comes from field, pavilion and RV site rentals and in another contract with the BGCE, who also serves as the facility's concessionaire, 15% of gross revenue that is collected at the concession stand is paid to the complex.
Concession stand proceeds totaled $13,054 through July 31.
The complex fared relatively well in 2020, even though the facility was shut down between early March and late July because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"Pre-(COVID-19)pandemic estimates were even as high as $225,000 to $250,000. That may have seemed like it was pie in the sky but we weren't able to have as many tournaments because of COVID," Harrison said.
"The city and the county said that if we could get half that, they would be happy. I don't know if the complex has ever had a year where revenue was over $100,000," he continued.
Billy Blann, a member of the El Dorado City Council and the complex board who attended the Sept. 10 meeting by phone, made a motion to approve the financials as presented.