Opinion: S. Tahoe ice rink deal full of cracks


To the community,

On May 1, I addressed the City Council. I said to the council that the city manager had screwed up the ice rink contract. The city manager took exception to my statement. But the facts support what I said. Examples are many.

The first contract was trashed because it violated federal tax laws. Presently, the rink is operating under a contract that expired on Feb. 1. On May 1, the city manager pressed the council to accept a new contract that would be for 20 years. The council rejected the deal because the contractor has not presented a business plan to the council. And the contractor has not shown any capital improvement money up front. An argument was made by Councilmember [Tom] Davis that the contractor needs a 20-year deal to carry to a bank to borrow money.

Bill Crawford

Davis’ argument suggested that the contractor isn’t rolling in dough, doesn’t have the necessary finances to operate under a 10-year contract that the council would support. The argument is fallacious. If a borrower can show a bank character, capital and capacity, borrowing shouldn’t be a problem.

Bottom line is the council sent the request for a 20-year deal back to staff. The city manager lost the argument after he made a loud contentious statement for the contractor that revealed just how impetuous he is; a character flaw for sure.

Bill Crawford, South Lake Tahoe

PS: Where will they put the second sheet of ice? The county owns the nearby land.



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Comments (17)
  1. Bill Swim says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    20 years seems way too long of a contract. The economy will change, the needs of the city and people will change. The last long term deal that comes to my mind is Heavenly and not being able to add a charge to ski lift tickets. Be very careful on this one city council.

  2. Tired of rhetoric says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    Bill maybe you have a limerick or poem that will help pay for the 100-200k the city operated the rink in the red. There is no correlation between the rink and heavenly. For these guys to make it work and invest the needed money, a long term deal is necessary. If you don’t get that, then take it over yourself. They are an event based group that will not only keep the rink open and profitable, but bring much needed tourism dollars to town. Although at times I have appreciated your input, your poems and limericks have yet to bring a dollar to town. This is not about the CM, it’s about a city asset that will end up just like the under utilized and poorly maintained Rec Center if it is left in city hands. Do the right thing City Council approve the deal and let them get going!

  3. X LOCAL says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    Thank you Bill for your insight into this matter.
    O’Rourke has messed up on so many things that it will be good to see the back side of him soon I hope. Also hope to see the back side of the Council soon too.
    Tom Davis should be ashamed of himself for his agreeing with the City MIS-MANAGER, he has already hurt this City beyond possible repair. Yakima Wash. will soon be his next victim.

  4. earl zitts says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    The city is skating on thin ice. Will they sell out the city again like the hole in the ground. If a 20 year lease is needed for a bank loan then let the bank say so.
    We all want the ice rink (paid for by “S” so no mortgage needed and it would show no losses) to succeed, but not again at the taxpayers expense.

  5. Steve says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    It would appear that once again, the City is on the brink of yet another poor decision, based on naivety, that will be regretted.

    Who would have voted for Measure S if they had known what was ahead. Nobody in their right mind.

  6. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    I completely agree with Tired of rhetoric’s comments and would add that Bill Crawford’s insinuation that the two young men who are diligently working to make this ice arena succeed shouldn’t have a problem borrowing money if they can show a bank “character, capital and capacity” is reprehensible. I believe that this type of character assassination goes too far even for Crawford.

  7. Chief Slowroller says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    the only reason measure S passed was for the Bike Trails

    but that turned out to be a scam

  8. orale says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    Agree with 4-mer-usmc

    We need constructive debate, not slams, and we need to move forward.

  9. Alex Campbell says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    Bill Crawford takes on the retread. Funny thing’s happen when a tire retread starts to unravel.The guaranty expires

  10. Lisa says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    While I understand his concerns and I am not a hockey fan myself, I know enough about the rink world to know that the 20 years is needed to both build the second slab of ice grow a program and to realize the profit from it. Hockey is where the money is for ALL ice rinks and a rink with just one slab can not attract an tournaments of any great size to come play here. Oakland has two slabs, San Jose has four and will soon have six and generally all slabs are busy with games or practice. The benefit for attracting these regular tournaments (and there can be several a year)is that in addition to bringing in money to the rink, they bring in tourist dollars for hotels, restaurants and many other businesses and will benefit everyone in South Lake Tahoe. This is especially true in the off season when the tourist dollar is most needed. Even the small figure skating program will be able to build a competition schedule. Presently “Skate at the Lake” in June attracts skaters from all over Northern California and is turning into a “go to” event for Synchro teams (if you have never seen synchro, come and check it out for free on Father’s Day weekend). It makes business sense.

  11. dumbfounded says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    Another example of the War on Ice Rinks.

  12. Local Yokle says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    Way to go Bill!

    To request a contract without a plan and to argue they need the contract to get money while still not having a plan makes no sense. No bank will give them money without a plan even if they have a 20 year contract. Plainly they do have ideas as to what they want to do they are simply not sharing these plans with the public and expect the public to pick up the tab.

    No Plan = No Contract.

  13. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    If they want a 20 arrangement, let them make an offer to buy the property from the city. That way they can run their business the way they want.

  14. Mike Ervin says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    Question how many locals have even skated at the ice arena since its been here? The youth Hockey teams who skate there how many are kids from SLT. You will find North Shore kids , Carson Valley Kids , Reno kids, the problem with Hockey is it is the most expensive Youth Sport around. Maybe why there is so many arena’s in the Wealthy Silicon Valley. I have 2 nephews who skated in that area I wont even tell you how much their parents spent on equipment, travel , camps etc for them to skate thank goodness they have very well paying jobs. What I still remember about the Measure S campaign was how it would improve the Bike Trails , build a 2 field complex for Soccer/Football and to improve and update Softball and Baseball fields. Since the ice arena has been here have we produced any Olympic Ice skaters, Hockey players , now we have curling. The biggest problem was they built a NHL size rink with hardly any seating. You cant make money if your arena is that small, imagine if it was big enuff to draw 10,000 to a preseason NHL game or could have Ice Skating competions, or Ice Shows or even be home to a Minor league Hockey Team, or cover it for a AFL indoor Football team. Build it and they will come, problem was when they built it they didnt think long term and how it could make money.

  15. Garry Bowen says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    Bill’s at it again. . . “character, capital, capacity” ? Going in reverse order, they didn’t have the ‘capacity’ to begin with (inexperienced but eager), ‘capital’ (now, with contract in hand, they need some, as they didn’t have it before) and, as for ‘character’ (what passes for it here), that translates into “connections”, given the reality of the first two.

    Someone’s family didn’t put up any money, but they figured that, if they had a contract in hand, they could get some – wrong !!

    The very fact that they pay less than .10/cents/sq.ft for a sophisticated 40,000 sq. ft building in ordinary times could be a collateralized contract, but these aren’t normal times, so the Old Boy way of doing things didn’t serve well this time. . .like others that we’re stuck with in contemporary times . . .

    I’m on record way early on that this would crash. . . but I didn’t tell you so, the numbers should have. . .

    Does anyone at anytime pay attention ?

    It appears not. . .

    0 for 3 not a good omen. . .

  16. Tahoe Calm says - Posted: May 8, 2012

    Bill–Have you tried to apply for a business loan in the last few years? Capital, character and capacity don’t matter. Lenders are not lending. You may have multiple accounts, good credit, multiple years in your business and banks are not issuing business loans. I think a 20 year contract is too long but I can understand the difficulties the new managers have in obtaining a loan.

  17. Not Born on the Bayou says - Posted: May 9, 2012

    Why not get a little creative on all sides, and work up some deal such as:

    – 10 years guaranteed

    – Automatic 5 year renewal if they meet certain reasonable performance goals that are effective for the city’s needs – in number of users, growth, and revenue targets.

    – Another 5 years after that for meeting other ramped up target at the 15 year point.

    Have a set of triggers that would result in a new bid if such goals aren’t met at each milestone point, or if they’re very close to the goals but just under, give them an extra year to take measures to correct before the bid is triggered.