Richmond oval at half capacity

Up to 700 members exercise at the Richmond Olympic Oval each day, but there
Up to 700 members exercise at the Richmond Olympic Oval each day, but there's room for that number to double.
— image credit: Jennifer Gauthier photo

Up to 700 members exercise at the Richmond Olympic Oval each day—and there's room for a lot more, according to its general manager.

"We think we have quite a bit more capacity. I would say at least double," John Mills told city council Monday, adding the oval hasn't neared a saturation point other fitness clubs experience.

With other users, approximately 1,000 people visit the oval per day, according to Mills' report.

Mills presented elected officials with details of the oval's $10-million budget for 2011—the first full year of operation for a facility that Olympic officials controlled until last April.

"We are in startup still, and we haven't yet had our first full year of operation. That's what we're entering now," said Mills.

Approximately 3,000 people hold fitness memberships to the oval, the report said, noting memberships have seen "steady" growth since September. Membership and admission fees earned the Richmond Olympic Oval Corporation $559,348 last year.

Mills acknowledged the residential growth anticipated around the facility could significantly boost membership numbers. River Green and Onni's Ora developments will bring thousands of new residents to the neighbourhood, but just how many memberships that will translate into is difficult to project, said Mills.

Taxpayers continue to fund the facility's operating costs, as per the venue's operating model. This year, the city will provide $3 million, and the Games Operating Trust—created with capital from senior governments—will contribute $2.5 million.

Mills said the oval still has room to grow in areas beyond membership. There's 6,000 square feet of leasable space still available, room for more court and ice rentals and potential to secure additional sponsors.

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