HOULTON, Maine — Despite above average temperatures this winter,
officials at the Millar Civic Center in Houlton said this week that attendance at the facility in 2015 increased by more than 60 percent over the previous year, and revenues are on the increase as well.
Town Manager Butch Asselin said Friday that he believes the positive numbers are the result of the “new ideas and programs” that Marie Carmichael, director of the Houlton Parks and Recreation Department, and Haley Nickerson, manager of the Millar Civic Center, have brought to the table since joining forces when Nickerson was hired in 2012.
Carmichael said Thursday that the Millar Civic Center saw more than a 60 percent boost in program attendance in 2015 over 2014.
“We are seeing this trend continue into 2016, with our attendance accounts well ahead of where they were last year at this time,” she added.
The boost in attendance has led to an increase in revenue, according to Carmichael, with the first half of the 2015-2016 season being “especially busy.”
“Overall, our skating attendance revenues increased by over $4,000 in 2015 compared to the previous fiscal year,” said Carmichael.
Asselin said that Carmichael and Nickerson “have been working hard” to create programs and generate ideas to bring in revenue.
“They have some terrific ideas,” he said. “It is tough during the winter because hockey takes up most of the ice time. In May, the Blackfly Brewfest will be held, and that is a new event that is going to be a big draw to the civic center that will get a lot of attention to the venue and to the community.”
Carmichael said that one of the biggest new programs at the civic center this season was bringing back an adult hockey program, which she said has been “very successful.”
They also have initiated an adult only public skate and updated its stick time program to move from general stick time to separate programs for adults 18 and over, youth under 18, and high school age.
“In the fall, we also hope to offer an after-school skate program, if all the logistics work out,” she said. “We have a few other ideas as well, and hope to be able to work them all into our 2016-2017 season.”
Asselin said that revenues at the civic center still have not increased to the point where they are offsetting expenditures.
“The cost of doing business is increasing, and at the civic center those costs include fuel, maintenance, salary and other expenditures,” he said. “But the civic center is a real asset to our town. We need to invest in it.”