Our rink was funded, designed and built in 1999 by SBRH's predecessor, Santa Barbara Hockey Association, Inc. 501c(4), at the cost of $215,000. Since then, we have held rental agreements with the Earl Warren Showgrounds for the "parking lot" on which the rink sits with terms up to one year, and at other times simply month-to-month,
During discussions with EW leadership in January 2023, we were issued a 6 month rental agreement, expiring June 30, 2023. We asked, "why not a year?" We were informed that to secure an annual lease agreement we needed continuing progress to the "Arena Sports Concept.'' So we spent close to $20,000 to form the non-profit Santa Barbara Arena Sports, Inc., install new backstop netting, LED lighting, security cameras, and rink improvements.
Yet at the expiration of our rental agreement, Earl Warren leadership awarded the rink rental agreement to another group, Dynamite Pickleball. A group that SBRH invited to the rink in August 2022, just 9 months ago. A group with no financial track record at the Showgrounds. A for-profit group that came to SBRH asking for, and receiving, a rent discount from SBRH so they could remain viable.
In late 2019 Keith Severson, SBRH president-elect, announced his goal of adding pickleball to the cadre of sports groups already at our rink and rebranding as "Earl Warren Arena Sports." Keith believed pickleball, primarily an adult sport, could use the morning-to-early afternoon hours to play. These hours are available as our youth are attending school.
And then COVID-19 hit, with group activity at the rink prohibited starting March 15, 2020. In December 2020 we started with Social Distanced Hockey, but COVID protocols, like the disease itself, remained an issue through 2021.
In July 2022, Keith started discussions with Dynamite Pickleball, who joined our rink community in August 2022 alongside our roller hockey programs and long-time partners :
Mission City Roller Derby, ongoing adult program since 2009
Hot Shots/Chalupa Lacrosse, ongoing youth program since 2012
Joga Futsal arena soccer, ongoing youth and adult programs since 2019
Santa Barbara High School Girl's Lacrosse, youth drop-in program
Figure skating classes and clinics , private lessons starting in 2020
and our single-event engagements including LA Kings and Farm Tough Hockey Clinics, Family Skate Nights, Movie Nights, Birthday Parties, Roller Derby Bouts, and even an occasional Broomball game. Pickleball was a good addition, as their players did use the rink in the earlier part of the day, when youth are in school.
There was rink time for everyone.
Returning to the present day, after 24 years, Earl Warren leadership has ousted non-profit Santa Barbara Roller Hockey in favor of for-profit Dynamite Pickleball, who SBRH brought to the rink 9 months ago. Is it any wonder that in a text message the owner of Dynamite said to Keith Severson:
"I know you may very well feel betrayed by me after hearing the news ... "
"We were encouraged by several members of the community including some on the EW Board to explore taking on the lease at the Rink ..."
Yes, we do feel betrayed. And not just by Dynamite Pickleball. There is much to be desired in how these events unfolded. From the lack of an open contracting process to a discussion of the ramifications of a rental agreement to an organization that does not own the rink.
Yet everyone can still win.
We believe the simplest solution to move forward is that Earl Warren Showgrounds rents the rink infrastructure from Santa Barbara Roller Hockey. And then assigns operating responsibility to the "rink activity management organization" - presently Dynamite Pickleball. This allows
Earl Warren leadership flexibility to select a rink activity management organization that meets their needs.
The rink activity management organization can negotiate, contract and coordinate directly with Earl Warren to meet their goals.
SBRH, as a non-profit, only needs to cover minimal costs and skate. Something like $100/month plus 3 hours skating time 7pm-10pm, on each Thursday and Sunday would likely do it.
Dynamite Pickleball has stated publicly they will honor the activity times and rates of the exiting users of the rink.
And everyone leaves the rink a winner.
We have requested the "Santa Barbara Roller Hockey Rink Status" be an agenda topic on the upcoming July 27, 2023 Earl Warren Showgrounds Board of Directors Meeting.
The Agenda for the July 27, 2023 Earl Warren Board Meeting indicates that Arena / Rink Management is on the agenda under CEO report. Thank you.