Council to consider stadium contract, cost increase

Published 10:54 pm Thursday, November 7, 2013

The number of events held at Selma’s Memorial Stadium has steadily increased over the years, and the cost of hosting an event at the stadium might be on the rise.

During a Tuesday meeting of the Selma Public Buildings Committee, a sub-committee of the Selma City Council, members looked over a new proposed contract form that would be used when scheduling events at the stadium.

Currently, there are no written contracts between the city and those who host events at the stadium.

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The idea of increasing the cost of renting the stadium from $375 to $400 was raised during the meeting; something Selma Recreation Department Executive Director Elton Reece said would make a small dent in the cost to operate the city-owned facility.

“It’s always been too low, I feel. Whatever the rate is, it’s always a bargain,” Reece said. “In order to get the stadium ready to play the first football game of every week, it costs about $1,500 to get the field ready. That includes paint, labor, cutting the grass, storing of the public bathrooms.”

Reece said the new contracts, which include sections where the renting organization would describe the exact needs of the group, would help the city determine how best to prepare the stadium.

“This is a great venue for a lot of different types of events, and this helps us set the ground rules for the use of the stadium,” Reece said.

Reece described to the committee how often the stadium is used for both athletic and non-athletic events throughout the year, including 32 football games at the high school and college level, along with 198 youth football games.

“I don’t have a problem with $400 fee, but the more things you have on the field, the wear and tear is awful,” Reece said.

The new contracts, he added, should help limit the overall wear on the stadium and grounds.

“It’s the only place in town where you can fit a crowd in, where you can control it and collect money for them to be in there, but there are a lot of things you need to protect in there,” Reece said.

The committee also discussed dropping — or limiting — discounted rates, which had been offered to non-profit groups and other fundraisers in the past.

Committee member and Ward 5 Selma City Council member Samuel Randolph supported the idea of limiting the discounts, as the current charge already fails to cover the operational costs of the stadium.

“We need to cut out that waiver for any organization, because it’s $375 and that’s not even what you spend on the lights and everything at night,” Randolph said. “We should put a limit on 12 free uses every year. No matter who.”

While she understood the desire to limit the loss of funding for the city, Public Buildings Facilitator Kay Jones said the purpose of Memorial Stadium was not solely to make money.

“We do lose a lot of money on half-price or free rentals, but as far as ever making a profit, I don’t every feel like the building will ever make a profit because of the expense of employees, supplies and utilities,” Jones said. “But we aren’t there to make a profit, we are there to be a service to our community.”

The Selma City Council is expected to further discuss the contracts during it’s next meeting.