MARINETTE— As the one year mark approaches — arriving Saturday — celebrating the day the doors officially opened at the City of Marinette Community REC Center, Executive Director of Recreation & Events Gavin Scray presented Marinette City Council members with an overview of the facility’s usage and revenue reports during the first council meeting of the New Year. His presentation highlighted areas for improvement as well as successes upon which to build as the facilities enters is second year in operation.  


Scray presented the 2019 revenue versus expense report showing the fiscal results of all programming, special events, personnel and other amenities and utilities at the REC Center for the last 12 months.  According to the report, over the 2019 fiscal year the facility’s expenses totaled $672,917.50 while total revenue topped out at $260,270.37. Punching the numbers into the calculator feeds back a cost recovery value of about 39%.

Adrienne Lacy, assistant recreation director, addressed the fact that as a community facility, which falls under the auspices of the local municipality, the REC Center, as with similar centers in other communities, was built to offer essential programming and and recreational opportunities for rural communities. It was not built as a commercial facility or as a business undertaking, which, among other provisions, are facilities designed for profit. 

“Most public facilities are not made to recover costs,” Lacy said.

Scray presented the council data showing the recreational industry averages when it comes to cost recovery. Those averages revealed that the REC Center’s 39% cost recovery falls a bit shy of the industry averages in 2019, according to a State of the Industry report by Recreation Management.

Recreation Management, a firm that specializes in analysis, products and information on everything related to recreational industries, generates the report annually. In 2019, recreational public organizations saw an average cost recovery of about 42%. More specifically, recreational centers averaged about a 56% recovery of expenses.  

However, one important fact on which Scray emphasized, stems from the fact that when accounting for results in the report the numbers don’t reflect the specific context of each organization or facility. He explained that the ‘industry average’ also factors in commercial and business recreational services and facilities, which would tend to skew the average upwards as those facilities operate on profit margins.

Public facilities, as Lacy pointed out, operate out of the mission to provide vital community resources.

Nevertheless, Scray also conveyed that after analyzing all the information, he hopes – and expects – to see the REC Center’s margin between expenses and revenue narrow in the coming years. 

“Moving forward, around that 50% (cost recovery) is where I would like to see the facility,” Scray said. “Is it going to happen next year? I can’t say. I think that is the goal … In the long term, shooting for that 50%, I think is where we need to be.”

Based on Scray’s expense-revenue report, in conjunction with the fact that the REC Center and its activities continue to gain momentum, he expects further gains in revenue next year and plans to expand upon certain programs and events to help facilitate cost recovery improvement. 

“For instance, our Summer Camp program last year was a success,” Scray said. “I think (the) growth from (that program) we are only going to see on the revenue side.”

He pointed out that when it comes to expenses for programs like Summer Camp, those numbers remain relatively fixed. 

“We will always have (those fixed costs) but everything above and beyond will be profit from here on out,” Scray said.  

In the realm of special events like Rumble at the Rec, Colossal Fossil and Blues, Brews and BBQ, facility staff and REC officials continue to learn and tweak each event as they decide what works and how to capitalize on those successes.

“We are learning as we go through each event about what to expect and what not to expect; and how to do better as each event comes along,” said Director of Marketing and Tourism Melissa Ebsch. “We can tell that craft shows, flea markets, rummage sales, those types of venues are popular in this area.”

Scray agreed, adding that that some events will be carried over into next year with changes to help make them more profitable. Other events, like the Antique and Flea Market may occur with more frequency throughout 2020 because of the significant attendance and success of such events. 

“I think we are going to do more events like the flea market” Scray said. “Ultimately, I think that (type of event) we could almost run quarterly or monthly, I think there is definitely a demand for it.” 

Beyond the numbers, data and dollar signs, Marinette City Council offered praise for the programming efforts and successes displayed by REC Center officials and staff during the facility’s inaugural year. 

“A lot of (the programming) was new,” said Council President Dorothy Kowalski. “We didn’t have a lot of this stuff and I give (the recreation department) a lot of credit for putting all this together ... it is nice to have different things and nothing but positives from the community.”