Club calls on pros to offer options
The East Coast Bays RSA, on Auckland’s North Shore, has enlisted the help of a specialist research company to investigate options for the Club’s future format and business arrangements.
The RSA and the Browns Bay Bowling Club have commissioned Visitor Solutions to “look at the big picture with an objective, business-focussed approach”.
The two clubs received a joint grant of $30,000 from the Upper Harbour and Hibiscus and Bays community boards to fund the feasibility study.
This followed an approach to the RSA from the bowling club, 500 metres down the road, suggesting the two amalgamate and be part of what is being called a “community hub” – a complex of Club space and sporting amenities such as bowling and tennis working on a business model and not solely reliant on income from members.
“If the merger goes ahead, there will be a loss of identity as an RSA, but not entirely,” says RSA president Kerry Kay.
“That’s one of the challenges …to ensure there is space set aside for some displaying of our valued memorabilia.
We don’t see the merger and retaining a relationship to our founding values as mutually exclusive at all.
“Our members don’t want to see the club die away and we don’t see any reason why this should occur.
We could see a possible Fox Hole Café at the bowling club site where some of our displays could be housed, as well as a bar/lounge area for the general public using the sporting facilities or visiting and socialising.”
The community hub is not the only potential option for the club, and Visitor Solutions will provide feedback to the RSA on other possibilities, though Kerry Kay acknowledges his preference is the merger proposition.
“There is a lot of goodwill and positivity from both Clubs, which is a great thing,” he says.
The bowling club’s approach was timely as the RSA was coming to terms with its worsening financial situation.
The club had been losing ground financially for some time, but it took some earnest research with XERO accounting software to reveal the extent of the decline.
Couple this with extensive roof and water damage from a fire in the club’s two-storey Browns Bay home in May 2015, and you had the conditions that led to serious consideration of the RSA’s future.
“We were just losing money in every direction in relationship to the patronage,” says Kerry Kay.
“When the club was closed for 10 months after the fire, it was very difficult to get people back. Put simply, like many clubs, we were in decline and the fire really created an opportunity for us to look afresh.”
He and the committee set about consulting members and staff, a process that led to a decision at last October’s annual meeting to look seriously at options, including the bowling club’s amalgamation/ community hub proposal.
“When it went to the vote, there was overwhelming support to look at options seriously, given the approach by the bowling club,” says Kerry.
“I was heartened that this attitude from our members and staff gave us the mandate to really look at how we could best meet the future.
Just as much for those members who have passed, who have put years of good energy and commitment towards it as for current members.”
Once the feasibility studies have concluded and the respective clubs have received its recommendations, if, how and when merger might
happen will go to the vote again.
Meanwhile, the fire damage to the RSA’s building has been repaired and the club has a conditional sale on its books, and is working through necessary council building-compliance documentation to secure the deal, says Kerry.
He expects the sale to go ahead as soon as the paperwork is tidied up.
If the merger with the bowling club goes ahead, the RSA would invest funds in the new community hub – important, says Kerry, so that the club has a financial stake in the new facility.
“We’re very fortunate that the bowling Ccub owns its own land, making it possible for changes to the building to occur and placing the whole project on a sound financial footing.”
Kerry Kay says he has been with the New Zealand Police for 42 years (his current role is police development manage r) and has become accustomed to managing change and creating initiatives.
“I am fortunate to be able to bring this professional experience to leading our RSA with its current membership of approximately 2000 through this important time.”