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Online sevenof400

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Considering recent arena building efforts
« on: January 27, 2019, 08:38:35 am »
Foreword: this thread is meant in the general, not the specific.  Even though specific schools are mentioned here, the point is NOT to single out any one school but to look at the trend in the big picture.

Through the magic of live feeds and attendance at some games recently, it sure seems to be the case that (for whatever reasons) attendance for Ark HS basketball seems to be down in recent years.  While I do NOT have specific numbers to back this assertion (because such numbers are not published), looking at feeds from games is all I am basing this on so there is obviously a possibility of errors here.   

The question is this: if they had it to do over again, would some of the schools who have built arenas in the last 10 years (or so) make the same choice OR might they have reined in their designs and capacities a good bit?

The first really big arena I watched being built was Alma's and while it has served them well over the years, I'm wondering how it is doing financially.  I recall the posted in Alma mentioning the arena was used for many purposes and one of them would be an emergency disaster center / shelter.  With that designation, Alma received some amount of federal funding to help build their arena.  Also, IIRC, Alma hosted multiple state basketball playoffs over the last decade. 

I am mentioning Alma to begin here as an example of a school that has probably gotten as much mileage out of their building as possible. 

And then, for comparison, I looked at the crowd (?) at Siloam Springs this past Friday. 

Siloam's arena is nice too - perhaps a notch or so below Alma - but that is NOT meant as any sort of negative to Siloam Springs because it is a fine arena as well.  But i am wondering if Siloam Springs overbuilt their arena.  And perhaps Cabot.  And maybe even Alma. Maybe some others as well. 

Again, I want to repeat the purpose of this thread is NOT to cast negativity toward any school that has built a large arena - rather to consider the question of whether current and future arenas should be so large.  Have these facilities become albatrosses around the district (and taxpayers) necks? 
« Last Edit: January 27, 2019, 08:40:50 am by sevenof400 »

Offline YSpanther

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Re: Considering recent arena building efforts
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2019, 01:58:50 pm »
You have to look at this as a school investment, not a moneymaking event FOR the school like a college or pro team.

Arenas provide a place to hold commencement and other school activities in the dry, instead of out on a football field or other locations.  Many schools use them for band concerts, plays, prom etc.  It's not just about the basketball and volleyball being played there.

If they build them big enough, they can bid on regional and state tournaments in their town.  This can actually help boost the local economy if it has restaurants and hotels that will be used by the teams, and especially the fans of the teams that come to these events.

Also, the state sometimes helps out with building funds if the district can prove that their current facilities are not enough to provide space for their PE, athletic periods etc. as well.  So the district is only paying part of the costs.  A related note is that sometimes building fund accounts have grown because of dedicated millage rates to pay for and maintain buildings on the district and the state frowns on hoarding that cash and sometimes encourages districts to use it in other ways, hence they are probably better off enhancing their physical plant instead of buying more new buses, etc.

So it isn't as simple as how you portrayed the argument. If a district had all of these things going in tandem, upgrading their facilities may have been a no brainer, fiscally speaking.  Considering that many of them are also then used for community purposes beyond their original construction.

Online sevenof400

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Re: Considering recent arena building efforts
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2019, 03:28:31 pm »
You have to look at this as a school investment, not a moneymaking event FOR the school like a college or pro team.

Arenas provide a place to hold commencement and other school activities in the dry, instead of out on a football field or other locations.  Many schools use them for band concerts, plays, prom etc.  It's not just about the basketball and volleyball being played there.

If they build them big enough, they can bid on regional and state tournaments in their town.  This can actually help boost the local economy if it has restaurants and hotels that will be used by the teams, and especially the fans of the teams that come to these events.

Also, the state sometimes helps out with building funds if the district can prove that their current facilities are not enough to provide space for their PE, athletic periods etc. as well.  So the district is only paying part of the costs.  A related note is that sometimes building fund accounts have grown because of dedicated millage rates to pay for and maintain buildings on the district and the state frowns on hoarding that cash and sometimes encourages districts to use it in other ways, hence they are probably better off enhancing their physical plant instead of buying more new buses, etc.

So it isn't as simple as how you portrayed the argument. If a district had all of these things going in tandem, upgrading their facilities may have been a no brainer, fiscally speaking.  Considering that many of them are also then used for community purposes beyond their original construction.

YSpanther,

Good points all around and thanks for bringing these up - and while I did acknowledge some of this in the OP, your post brings out these points in more detail from a different perspective...which I what I was hoping for here.

For some schools, if it was the case you note above about building funds getting too large, aren't building funds defined in such a way so they can be used for any building a district might need?  I recall some cases where districts have passed millage increases with their uses specifically defined (example: a millage to build a new sports arena, or a new middle school, etc) so I get that funds from dedicated millages are more restricted and must be used exclusively for their specified purposes.

But aren't general building funds structured in such a way where districts can opt to build any building of need?  Just to be specific, and again staying consistent with my foreword in the OP, if Cabot had an excess of building funds, might they have built a slightly smaller arena, and perhaps a new addition to a school?  It seems like that would have been better use of taxpayer funds.     

As you noted above, a facility can be multi-purpose to an extent, and that certainly is a benefit to a community (and the surrounding area) to have a facility like this when needed.  In reading your post though, I was reminded about Conway - and not all that long ago they built a new arena as well - but can't use it for graduation because their needs call for more capacity than their arena can hold so they end up going to Verizon (or whatever it is called now) in N Little Rock. 

I understand there is no (accurate anyway) crystal ball when it comes to determining how large of a facility to build when a district makes this decision.  But let me ask this question then - when it comes to building new facilities these days (classrooms, schools, arenas - anything) which is more typical?  A district accumulating building funds over the years finally hits a number where the district feels compelled to spend some of this money OR a district passing a millage increase specifically earmarked for a building?

Offline YSpanther

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Re: Considering recent arena building efforts
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2019, 07:22:44 pm »
The short answer is that each district is usually in a unique situation.  Most districts have millage dedicated to specific funds at the school because of state law regarding that.  Now when they put the ballot issue up, they usually put some sort of sunset clause on it, or describe it as being dedicated to a certain construction project. Many times the bond issue and the affiliated millage issue don't state that specifically.  Many a community has gotten quite irate when a school district has refinanced bonds and kept the millage at the higher rate, 20 years down the road.

But on a related note, I would argue that many medium sized communities would opt for an arena type structure, unless they had a major pressing need at a classroom level, because it then frees up the older facility for other uses like for baseball/golf/volleyball at the same time basketball is using the new facility and there is rain or other problems with the weather.  Or cheerleader practice, or wrestling.  The more inside multi-use space you have protected from the weather that can all be used at the same time, allows more variety in who gets to use stuff.  Now cheerleading and golf are more likely to get the old stuff, but at least they have a good space to do stuff in, when weather doesn't cooperate.  And it also helps to alleviate P.E. crowding etc. in those type classes.  You just don't get that type of return on putting turf on the football field or redoing and expanding the bleachers out there.  Or fixing up your baseball field.  Now if you need a new elementary school or to add on a new media center to the high school, etc. and you build the arena instead of taking care of academic core needs, well then that is another problem there and is how you lose your teaching staff (opinion wise) and frequently the community.  But  as we know, many times in high school sports the tail wags the dog.  And I suspect that might be a bit of your question here.  And not a totally unwarranted one.

I am attaching a pdf from the state regarding millage rates, to give you an idea about how they are different between districts.  All districts have to have at least 25 mills for maintenance and operation, and usually debt service is usually a fancy way of saying "paying off your house loan" for previous construction projects, but it is usually never that simple.  Out of M & O you can set money back into your building funds so that you don't have to get new bonds to build stuff.  But that can usually only be accomplished by the largest, most wealthy districts, and usually that is only a building at a time at most.  The second pdf is the bonded debt percentage each district has versus its valued property.

http://www.arkansased.gov/public/userfiles/Fiscal_and_Admin_Services/Publication%20and%20reports/Millage%20Reports/2017_Millage_Report_081318.pdf

http://www.arkansased.gov/public/userfiles/Fiscal_and_Admin_Services/Publication%20and%20reports/Indebtedness/FY17_Indebtedness_Book_and_Graphs.pdf


Offline B.G.

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Re: Considering recent arena building efforts
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2019, 09:09:47 pm »
I'd argue football fields are too expansive in many situations. They are not as used.  The gym is used all day long and often on nights and weekends.  That is year round.

Online sevenof400

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Re: Considering recent arena building efforts
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2019, 12:19:23 pm »
Thanks for those links, YSpanther!

Offline Lions84

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Re: Considering recent arena building efforts
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2019, 02:59:43 pm »
The New one being built at Clarendon will allow us to host many more events and such.

 

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