Jackson County is increasing its share from softball tournament revenues at Adair Park in Independence.
“ … what we know is that our revenues are not covering our operational expenses,” Michele Newman, director of the county’s Parks + Rec Department, told county legislators on Monday.
Adair Park, which typically is full of tournaments and league play during the warmer months, lost $60,400 in 2015 and is on pace to lose $50,000 this year, she said.
The county looked at seven similar facilities in the metro area – Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, Blue Valley, others – and found that only Jackson County and one other group let tournament organizers keep all of the gate receipts. Others charge a per-team rate or split the gate with the owner.
Newman said tournament organizers collected $200,000 in gate fees at Adair Park this year.
The county will start taking 40 percent of the gate in 2017. That change also applies to the Frank White Jr. Softball Complex at Longview Lake, where Newman said costs are not in the red.
Like other metro facilities, the county also charges teams to play in tournaments – $25 per team per day, with a minimum of $300. The county also has tried to balance out its costs by moving concessions in house.
Newman said the county is committed to providing good facilities and good customer service. She mentioned one tournament director, desperate to move games away from an inadequate facility, who called the day before Father’s Day, asking if the county could open for those games. The county did that, she said, and some employees had to give up their Father’s Day at the last minute to make that happen.
“We did it because we value our users,” she said.
Legislators approved the new park fees on a 7-0 vote, with two abstentions, those of Dennis Waits, D-Independence, and Greg Grounds, R-Blue Springs.
Waits said he agreed with Newman that Adair Park needs to bring in more revenue, but he also said that since this promotes youth sports, he’s not convinced it has to break even. He also expressed a concern that the change would drive some tournaments away.
“You may be right,” he told Newman. “I hope you’re right.”
Newman said, “We want to continue filling those complexes.”