April 15, 2013


Photo: Steve Thurston

Space for gymnastics in the county is at a premium, especially at gyms like this one at Barcroft Sport and Fitness Center.

So much of budget season consists of community interest groups standing up and asking for more county money. But Heather Cocozza, a member on the board of directors of Arlington Tigers Parent Association, has a different type of plan for this year’s budget season: how about the county make an investment that could generate revenue in the long run?

Cocozza sees opportunity for the county to make money simply by responding to the immense demand for gymnastics classes. As a representative of the Arlington Tigers, the county’s competitive boys gymnastics team, she has been tracking the ratio between enrolled students and those stuck on the waitlist.

For every 10 registered students, nine are waitlisted. Run by the Department of Parks and Recreation, the gymnastics program simply cannot meet the high demand of its residents. County numbers seem to bear this out. According to staff, the county has increased capacity 33 percent in five years with plans for more.

“We see this as an opportunity. Already gymnastics is the largest revenue-generating sport in Arlington. So while it is already generating a lot of revenue, there is so much more potential,” Cocozza said in an interview. According to her data, the county could have made $342,100 last year if the program could meet demand. She suggested that such a large waitlist discourages even more residents from signing up, put off by the long wait times.

Nevertheless, the plan still has not convinced the county board. Although $300,000 annually is a lot of money, is it enough to cover costs? Board member Jay Fisette at a county board budget work session with staff raised this question. There was no clear answer at the table. It would depend on exactly what needed to be built, staff said.

Fisette did not want to commit to invest in the program without knowing the amount of overhead costs needed to meet such demand. And the overhead can vary widely, depending on whether an appropriate space is built into a full-fledged gymnastics facility or just a small gym for younger tumblers.

“This seems to be a tremendous business opportunity. Why doesn’t somebody out there make a private gymnastics facility?” said Fisette during his comments.

The biggest challenge for gymnastics is finding the right space. The gymnastics facilities are full.

In an interview with the Mercury, Cocozza suggested using space that is not used to its full capacity or repurposing a different facility, such as a basketball gym. Once the program has a space, the county would also need to purchase gym equipment and hire more staff. She believed that the county would recoup the cost of this investment within a year. At the recent budget meeting, county staff were not so sure.


budget, , sports


April 15, 2013

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Comments (12)

Gold mine for the county

I'm trying to figure out how the gymnastics program qualifies as a special interest group. Expansion of the program would bring in enormous revenue for the COUNTY, not just the gymnastics program. And telling parents their children should just take up a different activity because the one they want to join is full? Shame on you. You would be singing a different tune if it were your kid.

Reasonable County Resident 103 days ago

Enough Gimmes to Special Interests

FYI has had essentially NO internal audit capability for the past two years, so who knows what gimmes to special interests will be "money makers".

Enough 106 days ago

Gymnastics as a money maker

If expanding gymnastics facilities and therefore enrollment results in a net gain in revenue, I'm all for it. We could use the extra revenue to "subsidize" other sports. Hopefully county staff are doing a serious analysis, as I am sure that there are a lot of things to take into consideration.

acorn 109 days ago

Stop the Special Interest Control Over Arlingtons Budget

People, if we don't stop the special interests from totally controlling Arlington, the special interests will totally control Arlington.

Peter 112 days ago

Expand the Program

How many parents would be in an uproar if their kid was told "Sorry, no room for you to play soccer... just find another sport."

Kids cannot just sign up for gymnastics at the YMCA - that is just as maxed out as Barcroft.

The gymnastics program is a profit-center, not a cost-center. Gymnastics revenue pays for other county programs, yet the demand for gymnastics is not met - by a long shot. Surely, the budgeting experts can do the math.

Also, other sports have many venues -- soccer, basketball, baseball...
Gymnastics has ONE venue (plus YMCA, which cannot come close to supporting the demand) and it is a year-round sport. Hopefully, the county can identify some existing space to support the program and enjoy the revenue it provides to the county.

Gymnastics Mom 114 days ago

Fisette Started It

Jay Fisette started the gimmes to special interests with the dog parks, live theater, bicycle infrastructure, aquatic why be surprised thqt every special interest wants its own taxpayer funded activity or program?

Peter 114 days ago

Enough with single interests

I've lived in Arlington more than 20 years. There are plenty of classes. Be flexible and sign up for a number of options or find another activity, or take them at the YMCA. Arlington taxpayers are not here to ensure every child (or parent) gets everything they want, and gymnastics is not a business we need to enter.

dld 115 days ago


The article gives one mom's projections of annual revenues but not projected costs or even any county thoughts on location if any. That leaves out half of the story. The question is whether revenues would exceed costs.

First of all, let's assume they find a space - perhaps the underused Artisphere, heh heh. The nice thing is, that's already built. So one-time costs would just be finish-out with the correct flooring and equipment, and costs of hiring or repurposing staff. Recurring costs are staff salaries, utilities such as water, electricity, groundskeeping, security service I assume. We would need to know those costs too.

If you hired five staffers at an average of $30,000 each INCLUDING benefits and taxes, that would require $150,000 of the projected revenues already.

Assuming the artists and other users of existing facilities are spared conversion of their facilities to suit gymnastics families, I honestly don't know where you would find the space. The soccer/lacrosse fields are full to bursting - again, not enough space for the demand.

If they did find space and had to construct a building, the cost of construction would immediately swallow years worth of projected revenues. Furthermore, the revenues are in the future, so the construction would need to be supported with current county budget and then paid back over the years.

Another Arlington mom 115 days ago

So What?

On Saturday the County Board is going to approve spending almost a million dollars to resurface ONE synthetic playing field.

Why does anyone wonder why every sports special interest group demands a chunk of taxpayer bucks for this or that sports activity?

Larry 116 days ago

Always $$$ for Sports, Entertainment, Recreation

Always big $$$ for sports, entertainment, and recreation in the County's budget. Infrastructure that costs a fortune to construct, maintain, upgrade, renovate, replace.

Never mind what Jay Fisette says, if a hundred parents and kids show up at at County Board meeting demanding big $$$ for gymnastics, gymnastics will be funded.

Peter 116 days ago

Fitness for kids in Arlington

It would be so nice for the county to expand the gymnastics program. What a fantastic way to promote health and fitness to a large demographic - all ages of kids, girls, boys, adults and special needs. It is wonderful to see such a high demand for the sport, and sad to have to turn so many away. Especially when it is also a great revenue source for the county.

Gymnastics Mom 116 days ago

county budgets

Great initiative, Heather. We need to think about demand for county services as an opportunity for the county.

Gary 116 days ago

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