When you need a new ice re-surfacer, how do you go about fundraising the money you need? And how can you be sure that what you really want isn’t different from what you really need? Here are a couple of stories that might give you ideas for your own arena. The first is the how one group turned to crowdfunding; the second is selling Zamboni rides in exchange for donations!
In February 2016, with their old resurfacer grinding to a halt, the Pittsfield, MA-based Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires turned to the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to try and raise the money they needed.
And, believe me, a new re-surfacer was needed.
Their existing Zamboni first hit the ice in 1976 — and its advancing age was more than starting to show. There were complaints about the diminishing quality of the cut of the ice, making puck bounces a guessing game for the hockey teams that played there. There were even break-downs on the ice where walls of mats were set up around the machine so practice could continue for an important figure skating competition — without risk of injury.
Something needed to happen.
According to Chris Jacoby, the CEO of the 117-year old BGCBerkshire, right around the time they decided to use the GoFundMe crowdfunding site to raise money, they got a $30K commitment from the Berkshire Bank.
“With that donation, we were up and running quickly,” Jacoby explains. “And it also made us examine our goals, being $60,000 away from the ice surface machine we were hoping to buy.” They looked at the reality of their arena, being open just six months a year, and decided they didn’t need a new machine. If they were able to find a “gently-used resurfacer” and, if the price was right, it might be exactly what they needed.
Lightly Used Olympia
Their future 10-year-old Olympia was being retired from a prep school in Connecticut where it had been working at another 6-month arena. But this propane-powered resurfacer had seen fewer resurfacings than what the GBCBerkshire would be putting it through, so a deal was struck.
Some other things happened too to make the purchase happen. For the first time in the arena’s history, they sold advertising on the boards. That raised another $11K. And one donor came up with a matched funds challenge, agreeing to match money that was privately raised. That brought in another $10K.
With that money, together with the proceeds of the GoFundMe campaign, they got the money they needed to purchase the second-hand Olympia and get it in place — on the 3rd floor of their building. Final cost: $59K.
Almost an entire year passed between the start of the fundraising campaign to the day their “new” machine was delivered, on January 19, 2017. To get their lightly-used Olympia in place, they needed a crane, after all, how else would you get it up to the third floor???).
You can see coverage of that here.
At the Northwest Arena in Jamestown, NY, they too need a new ice resurfacer eventually to replace their 22-year-old Zamboni. To raise the money, this not-for-profit decided to think outside of the box. What they came up with was the “Ride the Zamboni Fundraiser“.
For a minimum $10 donation to the New Zamboni Fundraising Fund, you’re allowed to ride on the Zamboni between periods — and be the center of attention on the ice for the 8 or so minutes that it takes for the resurfacing to be done.
“Our Zamboni is still running but it’s going to eventually need replacing,” says Northwest Arena’s General Manager, Craig Hinderleider. “We want to be ready for when that happens.”
Gift Cards Available Too
Hinderleider says there can be up to 10 available slots per night during the main hockey season, and that the program is quite popular during Junior hockey games as well as during the Christmas break.
“We sell gift cards too,” says Hinderleider. “So if you want to buy-a-ride-on-a-Zamboni for someone else, you can.”
This fundraiser has been in place for just over a year and a half. So far, they’ve raised over $2,500 and that’s with donations that rarely beat the $10 minimum. Before getting on, a waiver needs to be signed by the rider or the responsible parent. Hinderleider tells me he’s also looking for State grants to help eventually cover the costs. He would really love a new electric Zamboni.
“We’re a long way from our goal,” Hinderleider admits, “but the fundraiser is also a fun thing to that helps to set us apart. We encourage the people who get to ride on the Zamboni to wave to the crowd and have fun while they’re going around the ice. And they do!”