Hockey Rink Loses Sponsors After Election Claims

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The manager of the town-owned roller hockey rink on Abrahams Path submitted the rink’s annual financial report for 2007 to the Town Board this week, showing a more than 65-percent drop in revenues from sponsors in the wake of attacks on the town’s management of the facility during last fall’s election campaign.?Jim LaGarenne, president of East End Ice, the non-profit that operates the rink for the town, told the board on Tuesday that sponsorship of the rink, mostly from the purchasing of advertising along the “boards” that rim the edge of the rink, plummeted after the election.?According to the financial report Mr. LaGarenne submitted to the town, sponsorship revenues dropped from $25,584 in 2006 to just $8,780 in 2007.?Mr. LaGarenne said that some former sponsors told him they were withdrawing their support because of the accusations made by Republican candidates for the Town Board during the campaign. “It’s hurt us quite a bit,” he said this week. “Hopefully, that will blow over someday, and we’ll get those sponsors back.”?The agreement between the town and Mr. LaGarenne’s organization was made a marquee issue by the Republican candidates during the campaign. They claimed that the town had improperly awarded the management contract to East End Ice without searching out other management companies that might have bid on the project. Board members pointed out at the time, and reiterated last week, that East End Ice, which was formed by Mr. LaGarenne in 1993 specifically to lobby for the creation of a hockey rink in East Hampton, does not charge the town to manage the rink, does not draw any profits from its operation, and was already operating the hockey leagues there when the new rink was constructed.?Overall, the income from the rink’s operations in 2007 dropped about $2,000 from the year before because of a jump in revenues from usage of the rink. User fees, which were not increased, brought in $55,025 in 2007, compared with $41,572 in 2006. Mr. LaGarenne said the expansion of leagues in sports other than roller hockey, including the popular Latino soccer leagues, boosted the usage of the building last year.?Vending machine sales also climbed from $2,071 to $3,423. And East End Ice raised $14,600 in private donations in 2007.?In 2006, the rink brought in $65,000 in donations thanks to a single $50,000 gift from an East Hampton resident.?”That’s all money the town or a management company couldn’t have brought in,” Mr. LaGarenne said this week, referring to the dispute during the elections over whether the town should have bid out the management of the rink.?According to the financial report submitted by Mr. LaGarenne this week, the rink cut expenses in 2007. Salaries were reduced from $68,390 to $62,690 despite the increase in usage. Mr. LaGarenne, a retired New York City policeman, is the sole full-time employee, earning $37,000 a year for the management of the rink. The rink also employs two part-time attendants to supervise the building during events.

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