Audit: Mini golf course could boost Schenley rink
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Schenley Park Skating Rink's finances improved substantially in the past year, but the facility, unused much of the year, still isn't maximizing revenue, according to an audit that suggested the city offer miniature golf there during warm months.
"Setting up a miniature golf course need not be a big expense," Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb said in the audit, released Thursday. "Such a venture should be advertised extensively all over the city."
In 2009, the rink had revenues of $204,819 and expenses of $216,601, leaving a deficit of $11,782. That was a marked improvement over 2008, when it had revenues of $136,137, expenses of $273,050 and a deficit of $136,913, the audit said.
City Parks and Recreation Director Mike Radley offered a still-better picture, saying revenue figures in the audit included only money generated at the site. Left out of Mr. Lamb's revenue analysis, he said, was about $300,000 in Regional Asset District subsidies annually allocated to the rink.
When that money is factored into the equation, Mr. Radley said, "We're not operating at a loss."
Mr. Lamb said he didn't consider RAD money revenue and believes the rink could do a better job sustaining itself. He acknowledged the rink is making progress in that regard.
Salary expenses declined by about $36,790 in the past year because a staff position went unfilled. More important, however, some revenue streams -- including skate rental, skate sharpening, certain passes and adult and senior admissions -- jumped more than 50 percent since 2008.
The 2010 Winter Olympics and continuing success of the Pittsburgh Penguins helped to power the improved bottom line, Mr. Lamb said. Mr. Radley also credited special holiday events at the rink and predicted that the National Hockey League's Winter Classic -- to be played at Heinz Field next year -- will provide another boost.
Mr. Lamb and Mr. Radley agreed, however, that the rink needs to look beyond skating.
The rink "appears to be fully utilized during the winter season. However, during the summer season there appears to be little usage of the facility with exception of rental of the meeting/banquet room," Mr. Lamb said.
The meeting room was rented 59 times in 2009. Mr. Lamb suggested the rink increase that number by better marketing the site as a place for birthday parties and wedding receptions.
He also suggested the city seek a contractor to set up a miniature golf course, saying, "This has been considered for several years and could potentially be a success in generating income during the summer season."
Mr. Radley said the rink offered miniature golf in the 1970s and called it a "viable option" again.
First Published June 10, 2010 12:00 am