The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 14, 2013

Ice vouchers a hot idea

Arena manager wants more kids playing hockey

— We like the way Tom Grenell is thinking.

He is acting general manager of the Cambria County War Memorial Arena, but he’s not letting the fact he is “acting CEO” keep him from finding ways to improve this important facility. That includes increasing its usage.

Grenell last week announced a plan to help offset ice-rental costs for groups, organizations and leagues. But he’s trying to do more than that.

“I’m trying to get more kids to play hockey ... We need to get hockey back to where it’s affordable,” Grenell told our Dave Sutor.

Arena ice time averages $200 an hour, a cost we’re told is appropriate for the region’s market but one that stresses the smallish budgets of area hockey organizations, including schools.

To help out, the arena is offering parents, coaches and other supporters volunteer time during events that, in turn, pays off in vouchers good for free ice time.

Volunteers will work side-by-side with regular employees, Grenell said, adding that the plan does not mean regular employees are being laid off.

“We have to be very, very, very responsible with our taxpayers’ dollars,” Grenell said. “This is just another way we can do it.”

Arena workers apparently will also be asked to perform multiple tasks.

“We need to stop thinking compartmentally,” Grenell said.

Absolutely. Businesses today survive and thrive through smart practices such as cross-training and by finding new, and perhaps unusual, ways to increase their products’ popularity.

We long have bemoaned the fact that the war memorial was underused and losing out on critically needed revenue.

We hope Tom Grenell’s idea pays dividends.


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