Under the hood in the Sportspark Reopening, RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes took a painful pummeling from Roosevelt Islanders and their elected officials. Forced to reduce resident fees by nearly 80%, Team RIOC passively lashed out at them. While it’s a big win for locals, it’s a stunning failure from Haynes that residents will eventually pay for.
by David Stone
The Roosevelt Island Daily News
Sportspark Reopening: Dueling Public and Press Releases
Usage fees for Sportspark took a plunge that high dive champions would be proud of. Roosevelt Island adults saw their fee cut by over 75%, from $125 to only $30 per month. And although RIOC initially sought banning kids under 15 from the facility, most children are now welcome at no charge.
In a press release aimed at an international audience, comments by Roosevelt Island’s elected officials must have stung Haynes and his protectors in Albany. (And yes, in case you’re wondering, the press release again featured a screaming headline promoting Haynes without any mention of RIOC.)
“Burdensome fees should not be a deterrent from recreation and I appreciate that RIOC has listened to the advocacy of Roosevelt Islanders and elected officials,” zinged City Council Member Julie Menin.
“I am pleased to see that the new fee structure we fought for is more affordable and more equitable for residents,” stated Assembly Member Seawright. (Note: Communications All-Star AVP Akeem Jamal could not bring himself to include Seawright’s full title or name. It’s State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.)
Senator Liz Krueger commented, “I am very pleased to see that RIOC has listened to the voices of community members and has proposed Sportspark rates that are affordable and will ensure that Sportpark remains widely available for Roosevelt Islanders…”
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A Voice in the Crowd Spins the Facts
Laughably, Haynes added, “We heard you loud and clear when it came to pricing our Sportspark memberships, and we’ve come up with a plan that we feel puts affordability and access first for island residents.”
Haynes did not mention why he never listened in the first place or why he did not still until the electeds stepped in.
But none of that made it into an advisory generated just for Roosevelt Islanders or an associated webpage.
Tale of Two Cultures
Decide for yourself why RIOC used a professional-looking paid press release for the rest of the world while offering Roosevelt Islanders a bare-bones model. But why passively diss our elected officials by leaving them out?
Without Seawright, Kreuger and Menin, Haynes’s outrageous initial fees would have been permanent. And as we reported at the time, bound for failure because that’s where his plans always end up. His clumsily grabbing credit for others’ achievements doesn’t have a long shelf-life.
Sooner or later, the cat’s out of the bag.
But despite reduced rates, downstream, the community will eventually pay for Haynes’s mistakes. That’s because, after sinking millions into a Sportspark renovation grander than residents wanted, RIOC will not be able to pay for its operations.
That’s on top of bleeding red ink in keeping the Tram operating.
Oh, and One More Thing About the Sportspark Reopening
With apologies to my hero, Steve Jobs, there’s one more thing:
In both the international press release and the local advisory – if you drill down to the webpage – RIOC offers facility tours. For the rest of the world, there’s this link. It works, although only seven spots out of dozens available on the first weekend are taken so far.
But the link for Roosevelt Islanders gets you this: