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Appleton Ice, Inc. Strategic Plan. Planning Commission. Formation April 2006 Consisting of users and supporters of our facility Objective Resolve the fundamental issues that challenge the Appleton Family Ice Center Goal Enable the development of a second sheet of ice

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Appleton Ice, Inc

Strategic Plan

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Planning Commission

  • Formation

    • April 2006

    • Consisting of users and supporters of our facility

  • Objective

    • Resolve the fundamental issues that challenge the Appleton Family Ice Center

  • Goal

    • Enable the development of a second sheet of ice

    • Enable the long-term success of the facility

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Appleton Family Ice Center Background

  • Opened in 1999

  • Volunteer board

  • Three full-time staff members

  • Several part-time

  • Not for profit organization

  • Serving:

    • Appleton Area Hockey Association

    • Valley Figure Skating Club

    • Appleton United High School hockey (boys and girls)

    • Lawrence University hockey

    • Adult Men’s hockey

    • Adult Women’s Hockey

    • Ice Dogs

    • Ice Cats

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The mission of the Appleton Family Ice Center is to provide the community with a recreational ice facility that meets the needs of residents in the Fox Valley Region and contributes to the local economy through tournaments, competitions and events.

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Planning Commission Findings

  • Second sheet pro-forma financial model demonstrates that greater than 70% ice utilization is required during winter operation

  • It is likely that the second sheet will negatively affect ice sales at Tri-County Arena, Oshkosh YMCA, and the current ice sheet.

  • Projected future ice demand from current organizations using AFIC will not support the required ice utilization

  • The City of Appleton will support Appleton Family Ice Center, but without a plan to increase our service to the community it will be difficult to attain more financial support from them.

  • The Appleton Family Ice Center is not well known within the community at large. 

  • Feedback from the Visitor and Convention Bureau confirmed that there is little belief that a larger facility will create business opportunities.

  • Input from other organizations that have executed large capital campaigns suggests that fundraising in phases (outdoor ice first) will not achieve ultimate goal. Advice was to go for entire amount.

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Planning Commission Findings

  • The cost of ice skating is identified as a key factor limiting the growth of the skating organizations.

  • Ice rates at Appleton Family Ice Center are in the middle range of ice rinks within Wisconsin and Minnesota 

  • Ice rates are hard to compare due to differences in operating structure. 

  • Many organizations in Minnesota are owned by the community through parks and recreation or the public schools. 

  • The FonduLac rink and the Cornerstone Community Center are both aligned with the youth hockey programs.  These organizations provide volunteer services and fees directly to the operation of the rink.

  • In meetings with members of the Tri-County Ice Rink management team, there was some interest in exploring joint operation options. The goal would be to improve operational efficiency and ice utilization.

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Planning Commission Conclusions

  • Ice availability at Appleton Family Ice Center is at a critical point, there isn’t enough to satisfy the needs of partner groups or the community. 

  • The identified ice shortage will not support the operation of the second sheet of ice.  Without new skaters and new programs the second sheet will have financial issues. 

  • A larger base of users from the community will help with fund-raising and developing support from the City of Appleton. 

  • Appleton Family Ice Center and its partner groups need to work in unison to attain the goal of a second sheet. 

  • Appleton Family Ice Center needs to develop programming that supports and enhances the Appleton Parks and Recreation programs.  This will lead to a better partnership with the City of Appleton and will help with attracting new skaters.

  • The cost of entry into ice sports is higher than many other of the sport options.  To attract new skaters, a means to offer a low cost of entry is required.  We will need partnerships with other organizations, support from the city, additional fundraising, and potentially grants to develop programs to attract new skaters.

  • The fixed costs of AFIC, primarily debt maintenance, requires a business plan with a component to significantly reduce existing debt; so, debt reduction is a recommended component of the fund-raising campaign for the second sheet of ice.

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Four Part Plan

  • Create Low Cost Second Sheet

  • Execute Capital Campaign

  • Grow Skater Base

  • Create Two Sheet Operating Plan

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Create Low Cost Second Sheet

  • Why:

    • Current debt limits scope of new project

  • Goal:

    $1.5 million construction cost

  • Tactics:

    • New design based on minimizing cost

    • Used equipment, including boards, glass, and refrigeration

    • Volunteer construction

    • Gain approval from city for bare bones plan

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Execute Capital Campaign

  • Why:

    • Significantly increasing debt load of facility will create financial instability

  • Goal:

    Total debt after 2nd sheet construction < $2 million

  • Proposed Tactics:

    • Campaign based on goal to reduce debt to facilitate 2nd sheet

    • Campaign based on goal to maintain ice costs

    • Pursue city with plan that combines debt payment with debt relief

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Grow Skater Base

  • Why:

    • Need new skaters to fill required demand for second sheet

    • Need larger base of users for fund raising

  • Goal:

    Increase user base by 15%

  • Proposed Tactics:

    • Joint programs to attract new skaters, including learn to skate and learn to play hockey

      • City of Appleton

      • Valley Figure Skating

      • Appleton Area Hockey Association

      • Boys and Girls Club

    • Promotional events to increase awareness of Appleton Family Ice Center and programs

    • Programs for alternative uses like broomball

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Create Two Sheet Operating Plan

  • Why

    • Obtain commitments for ice sales prior to construction

  • Goal:

    Pledge ice rental commitments totaling 1200 additional hours

  • Proposed Tactics

    • Create a business plan based on the number of hours to be sold by user group and program

    • Create a business plan that defines the most cost effective operational model, including the use of volunteers

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Task Force Approach

  • Create a task force for each part of the plan

    • Task force leader

    • Task force members

  • Empowered to develop plans to achieve goals

    • Task force leader member of AFIC Board of Directors

    • Plans of four task forces coordinated to build upon each other