ST. CLOUD - A new study says St. Cloud's Municipal Athletic Complex continues to play a vital role in our community, but some changes will need to be made in order for the facility to stay financially viable.

The St. Cloud City Council will be reviewing the study Monday night during their regular study session.

Director of Community Services and Facilities Tony Goddard says they're spending more money these days on their part-time staff.

In recent years there's been more strain to the budget because of the increase in minimum wage.  The facility uses a tremendous amount of part-time workers, particularly in the summer. So, when the minimum wage increased, that added a lot of extra costs.

Goddard says right now they are able to balance the MAC's budget every year, but in order to do so they have to divert some money from the River's Edge Convention Center.

St. Cloud city staff will be looking at ways to generate more revenue, to help balance the budget, at the Municipal Athletic Complex. Goddard says options include naming rights, urging the Convention and Visitors Bureau to solicit more tournaments, and reworking the Rox contract.

That contract is up after this year, so we are indeed in conversations with the Rox about how that contract might look different in the future.  Relations between the city and the Rox are good, and we're having a lot of productive conversations.

The study also suggests improving the MAC's website and social media efforts.

Meanwhile, some upgrades may be coming to the ice arena. Goddard says the expansion includes adding 32,000 square feet to the south side of Dave Torrey Arena, for more locker rooms and a training facility.

In the ice arena world there is a lot more emphasis on facilities that can provide dry land during their training so young people will have access to the ice, but also have access to a quality training facility.

Some possible options to pay for the expansion include applying for a Mighty Ducks grant, requesting bonding money from the state legislature, and private donations.

Artificial turf is also being tossed around for at least one of the baseball fields.

The report says, in 2016, the MAC hosted 71 hockey games, and 307 baseball games. And, over 10,000 rounds of golf were played. An estimated 200,000 people attended events at the MAC last year.

The study says the MAC has been an integral part of the St. Cloud area since 1971, and has matured into a sports complex of regional and statewide significance. And, as the region has grown, a number of competing facilities have been built. The report also says the MAC is an important for hotel occupancy, and visitors to our community.