Will the Mattamy Athletic Centre ever make back the cash?

Though its priority is to tend to the university and its students, the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) has been generating revenue from third-party sources to help speed up the process of breaking even.
In the seven months since its August opening, the MAC has generated about $1.2 million in gross revenue.
“We have had a lot of events held here in the last couple of months. We have had the Ultimate Fighting Championship (weigh-ins) … the Wilson Cup, and soon we will have the Grand Slam of curling nationally televised at the MAC,” said Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson University.
The total cost to redevelop the university portion of the Gardens was $60 million. Twenty million dollars came from a levy that students approved in a referendum in 2009, plus another $20 million from a federal government grant. Additional funding came from Loblaw Companies Ltd., as well as Peter Gilgan, founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes, who donated $15 million to the project.
The facility is still in its early days and there is much to be done before it will generate enough revenue to offset expenses.
“In terms of gross revenue, not counting expenses, the total is about $1.2 million, that’s $200,000 in retail sales, $490,000 in catering and about $500,000 in venue rental,” said Levy. “So that’s not breaking even … but now we are starting to get a sense of how much to charge for things.”
And although $1.2 million sounds like a lot of money, Levy is aware that, taking the costs of running the centre into account, the money received is not making a dent in the $20 million that was originally invested.
But he said, “the space is almost always rented or occupied.” And with time, “hopefully we can come to that point where we do break even in the future,” said Levy.
“It’s too soon to say, but right now we are pleased with the direction that we are heading in,” said Erin McGinn, executive director of MAC and Global Spectrum. “We can’t evaluate the costs versus benefits, realistically, until a full year has passed since the opening of the MAC.”
As for where the priorities lie, the athletic centre is a priority space for many Ryerson students. However, the goal and mandate set out for the facility is also to make it more accessible to others who are not part of the university.
“Our goals are to reach out to the community and it’s the goal of the university to have a space open for others as well,” said McGinn.
The university works alongside Global Spectrum Facility Management to fulfil these goals.
“We are responsible for generating revenue through sports, sporting events, rental space, external third-party major events, ticket sales, community, and Ryerson itself,” said Keith Baulk, general manager at the MAC and Global Spectrum.
Future plans to generate even more money for the space include ice time for people looking to play hockey, skate or enjoy other activities during the summer.
“A lot of spaces close off for the summer, so we are looking to open up our facility to those who have nowhere to go in the city,” said McGinn.
But because the facility is in its early days, there are still many issues that need to be smoothed out.
The space has been used for a few major events and during those times, student use didn’t seem to be a priority.
“A number of people were upset when they were displaced,” Levy said of the Ontario Liberal convention held at the MAC.
“I think it was a volleyball event, and people were understandably questioning where the priorities lie.”
Students have also been misinformed or have misunderstood their rights in regards to the different uses of the facility.
“We need to learn how to expose Ryerson students as well to the space. Some people were under the false impression about what they could or could not use,” said McGinn.
Levy agrees. “I found out that, initially, students thought that they had to pay for a variety of things. So there’s fine-tuning to make sure that students see that they are the priority.”
Students who are not a part of a team are able to use the gym, which is located on the second floor. Students’ tuition fees automatically pay for their access.
For now, it seems the university and Global Spectrum Facility Management are pleased with the amount of business the space is generating.
“I think, as it becomes better well-known, and people start to use it for big conventions … it will become more attractive and hopefully it can make more money to come close to breaking even,” said Levy.

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