Hodag Dome policies, fees set
By Eileen Persike
The School District of Rhinelander (SDR) Board of Education has approved a package of scheduling and fee policies for the Hodag Sports Complex. At this month’s operations committee meeting, recently-hired Hodag Dome manager Janet Jamison broke down for the board who will use the dome, hours of operation, priority of scheduling and applicable fees.
“One of the early goals that I have for this position is to get some sort of structure in place, try to figure out when we open the dome how that’s going to look.”
School district students and student athletes will have top priority for scheduling, along with Rhinelander non-profits and Rhinelander youth-based club team practices. The next class would include Rhinelander youth-based club team games, events or tournaments and community members. Rhinelander for-profit businesses and organizations or club teams with at least half of its members from SDR would make up the fourth tier, followed by organizations, individuals and teams from outside school district boundaries.
When creating a fee structure, Jamison said she looked at SDR goals for the facility.
“The facility first and foremost is for our students and our student athletes,” Jamison said. “But it’s also a really great asset for our community and we feel that it’s important to keep those fees low for people in our community.”
She also researched fees at comparable facilities in the Wausau area, the Twin Cities and Wisconsin Dells.
“Rhinelander is unique in that we have this incredible huge facility, but we’re also not located next to a huge city; we’re not a suburb of Minneapolis, so that’s something to keep in mind, too, as we set our fees and prices.”
School board member David Holperin said he supports the outlined plan as a starting point.
“Not having done this before and this is new, I would simply support you and say let’s run with this because it can always be changed as we learn more about dome maintenance, the variable expenses that maybe haven’t been considered.”
Hourly fees are currently set dependent upon how much space is being rented, which facilities (fields, batting cages, golf simulator, sport courts) and how many hours. Some pricing tiers include charges for custodian or dome supervisor fees. All community members over the age of 18 participating in “open dome” times and leagues will be required to sign a waiver and have a facility identification card, at a cost of $15 per year for people residing within the SDR boundaries.
The board also approved a proposal for a dome attendee position. Jamison said adding a part time position would allow the facility to be open for community use in the early morning and after 6 p.m.
Construction on the $8 million Hodag Sports Complex began last spring. Dr. Lee Swank donated $500,000 as seed money to build an indoor practice facility for students. The project grew to include the 120,000 square foot air-supported dome with batting cages, golf simulator and four sport courts, two softball fields and a new junior varsity baseball field outside, and additional parking. The Hodag Schools Foundation and the community raised more than $2 million for the project and the SDR school board committed $5.7 million to the project from its fund balance so that no taxpayer money would be used.