The Town of Bridgewater and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) have declined a funding request for the operation of the HB Studios Sports Centre.
To help with the centre’s funding problems, councils have instead tasked their respective CAOs to prepare a report on alternative operation models.
The 49,000 square foot centre, which was completed in 2008, is the only indoor sports field along the South Shore; it is also one of the few indoor turf facilities in the province.
Councils met for a special joint meeting on April 9 to discuss the request which was put forward by the centre’s operator, the South Shore Field House Society.
MODL Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson said the Society requested each municipality commit $40,000 each year for five years to alleviate its debts.
“At this time, the councils have contributed many thousands of dollars to this facility and were concerned that continuing to contribute each year wouldn’t make a substantial difference in the viability of the facility,” she said during an interview with the South Shore Breaker.
The Society’s debt currently sits at more than $400,000.
Tammy Wilson, the CAO for the Town of Bridgewater, echoed Bolivar-Getson’s comments.
“Every year they seem to be asking for money and a lot of it has to do with the debt that they hold,” said Wilson.
“Council just felt that it wasn’t sustainable long term and that we should be looking at other options.”
When asked about potential changes to the centre’s operation model, Wilson said it was too early for specifics.
The CAOs report, she said, won’t be completed for several weeks but will examine all facets of the facility’s operation before narrowing down options for councils’ consideration.
“We’re going to look at it all,” she said.
A regional facility
When the centre first opened in 2006, both the Town of Bridgewater and MODL each agreed to contribute a combined $620,000 to the Society over 10 years.
The Municipality of the District of Chester, the Town of Mahone Bay and the Town of Lunenburg also contributed to the centre’s original construction.
MODL then gave an additional $32,000 last year; Bridgewater provided $25,000.
And despite denying the most recent funding request, Bolivar-Getson stressed the centre’s regional importance.
“This is one of only a handful of covered field houses in the province. It definitely does serve a purpose,” she said.
“We need to make sure this facility is financially sustainable well into the future.”
In addition to soccer, Bolivar-Getson noted the centre is used for baseball, football, rugby, archery and track.
Tony Lohnes, who regularly uses the centre’s track, said the sports facility is a big community draw.
He added that he’s pleased both councils are working towards keeping it running.
“It’s something they should be doing,” he said.
Still, Wilson said councils must do their due diligence.
“If we’re going to invest in this facility, we want to ensure it is operating in a fiscally sustainable manner,” she said.
Representatives from the Society were contacted but were unable to comment in time for this story.