“I’m about to do something that hasn’t been done in any significant quantities for a while. I’m going go give you some good news,” he said at the Queen Creek Town Council meeting. “You wanted me to earn $136,000 my first year and by my third year you wanted me to earn back 50 percent of the operational budget that you afforded us.”
Mr. Lynch told council he has exceeded those expectations.
“We didn’t earn that $136,000 we had targeted, but rather $220,000,” he said of last fiscal year’s proceeds from June 1 2010 to July 1, 2011. “As of right now, we are on track to earn $460,000 this fiscal year. That will represent a 60 percent return on operations and that is a full 10 percent and a full year ahead of schedule.”
To further capitalize on current and future revenue projections for the equestrian centre two scenarios have been proposed including the creation of an RV parking area and the combining of certain arenas, Mr. Lynch says.
“All of these projects that we have are basically revenue enhancers for the town,” he pointed out of planned upgrades at the facility. “Everything has either got money already budgeted ... It is going to be a rare time that I am going to have to come to you and say hey, ‘We need this money from you or we need this extra money from you.’”
Mr. Lynch says his goal is to one day have HPEC be a self-sustaining enterprise that can be used as a boon for economic development within town boundaries.
“I am not saying that I won’t, but I’m saying that it is going to be rare; and we are going to try and be fairly self-sufficient in that fashion,” he told council.
A consultant has been hired to help town staff design both RV parking areas and the possible consolidation of two of the four existing arenas, according to Doreen Cott, the town’s economic development director.
“Staff is currently working with J2 Architects who were involved in the original design of the facility,” she said in an Oct. 12 written response to e-mailed questions. “The contract for design will be approximately $6,000 to $8,000.”
Ms. Cott says future plans discussed were always included in the facility’s master plan.
“RV stalls were included in the original master plan for Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre, and are now in the design stage,” she pointed out. “Staff is looking at a total of 40 stalls but, depending on the cost, this number may be adjusted. RV stalls are a revenue generator and are a frequently requested amenity at the facility.”
The consolidation of arenas will change the scope and grandeur of HPEC, Ms. Cott contends.
“By connecting arenas 2 and 4 the facility would gain an additional 65 feet in arena length, which could expand the scope of HPEC’s hunter/jumper involvement to a Class A level,” she said. “This could create the need for an additional 100-150 stalls per day thus greatly increasing revenues.”
Since May 2010, a marquee sign, west-side bleachers, additional lighting and 200 barn stalls were added to HPEC, according to Ms. Cott.
“The goal is to increase cost recovery at Horseshoe Park; these type of facilities are not designed to turn a profit,” she said. “However, the secondary impacts to the community are significant, and these impacts will continue to increase as larger events are booked.”
The right direction
Queen Creek Councilman Craig Barnes says he is optimistic following the Oct. 5 report from Mr. Lynch.
“That we are moving in the right direction and it’s making more money than we thought we would be able to get from it this quickly,” he said in an Oct. 11 phone interview of his optimism.
Councilman Barnes says he is not expecting HPEC to ever turn a profit for the municipality of Queen Creek.
“It would be nice if it did make money, but there are no parks in any municipality that are a money-maker,” he said. “That is the general thought of the community — that it is for us to make money.”
A combination of promotion and creating a diverse calendar of events is the keystone for the facility making more dollars and cents than it is taking away from the municipality, Councilman Barnes says.
“We need to make it a facility that can be used for a large amount of different uses,” he said. “We need to get the word out to people that we can have an RV show — things that are not typical of an equestrian park.”
But when they come, where will they stay? Councilman Barnes asks.
“Definitely you have to have a hotel relatively close in place ... you need it somewhere between the town or right in downtown,” he said. “You need it somewhere between the town and Horseshoe Park or right in downtown.”
Without a Queen Creek lodging option, auxiliary dollars that can be gained will be lost to the neighboring communities of Mesa and Gilbert that can offer those amenities to patrons of Horseshoe Park, Councilman Barnes says.
And, until that amenity arrives within town limits, Horseshoe Park will continue to be subsidized with taxpayer dollars.
“Any money that is a loss concerns me,” he said of the six-figure projected loss in revenue this fiscal year. “You’re not going to charge the residents to be able to have those events here plus they have already paid with their taxes to keep that park open. They (residents) think that the park is there taking care of itself, but it gets subsidized by the General Fund.”
Marquis Scott, Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, says Horseshoe Park plays an invaluable role in marketing the town for future economic development endeavors.
“I think as far as a our future of economic development it plays a major part,” he said in an Oct. 11 phone interview. “To all of the tourist locations to the areas and to the businesses also.”
Noting total capacity of 2,500 spectators attending events at Horseshoe Park, Mr. Scott says data derived from the success at the facility may be able to spur new development.
“They will help us to generate enough data to justify one or two hotels in the area that will be a benefit for Horseshoe Park,” he said. “Then it will become the vehicle that it was intended to be.”
Marketing will play a majore role in the facility’s success, Mr. Scott contends.
“I think a lot of is just going to be getting the word out to the equestrian and horse community,” he noted. “If we can find a way a provide those individuals housing here locally those additional dollars are going to be realized by local businesses.”
Mr. Scott says he is optimistic about the future successes Horseshoe Park may carry for the community.
“I don’t know the dollars and cents wrapped around the facility, but I just think as it sits in a community that is still growing is a positive,” he said. “It is in a community that is not too far from (the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport) to facilitate the incoming and outgoing traffic.”
Debating what should have been spent or what should not have been spent, Mr. Scott says is not relevant for involved community members.
“I think the opportunity is there and no matter what the challenges are surrounding its creation is not important,” he pointed out. “It is here now and we have to make it a win-win situation for the community. We have to say the only option is success and do what we can to make it successful.”
A community park
Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre offers a community arena for general public use only. It is not for event centre participants nor is it available for reservation. These facilities are offered on a first come, first served basis only. Riding is permitted in the community arena on the west side of the park. Riding is only allowed in this arena. Riding hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. No open riding is permitted in the event centre.
Want to know more?
To learn about the calendar of events and all of Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre features go to http://www.queencreek.org
Home to many
Horseshoe Park is home to a number of prestigious organizations including the Arizona Cutting Horse Association, Arizona Reined Cow Horse Association, Arizona Reining Horse Association, Hershberger Performance Horse Sale and Joan Usher Barrel Horse Racing.