MADEIRA BEACH – Imagine if you will an adult putt-putt golf tournament, followed by an after-party at the Daiquiri Shak or a craft beer festival at John’s Pass Village that provides revenue to build a kids fishing pier.
These are among the innovations Madeira Beach Recreation Director Doug Andrews has come up with in the past three years to create an additional revenue stream for his department and expand operations.
Since joining the city staff in July 2014, Andrews has invented ways to increase Parks and Recreation revenue from $219,074 in fiscal 2015 to a projected $415,000 in fiscal 2017. The increase amounts to an 89 percent bump in funding, which has helped a lot to offset the additional expense of the city’s new recreation building. The new building is one of the major reasons expenditures have gone up about 24 percent since fiscal 2015.
The new ideas should come as no surprise. Andrews, 51, has a keen business sense that dates back to his years in Virginia in the telecommunications industry and most recently as the owner, with his wife, of the 7-Eleven store at 13601 Gulf Blvd.
When approached by former Mayor Travis Palladeno about running the recreation department, Andrews initially balked at the idea. He later applied for the job and was hired.
Andrews had no previous experience running a city recreation department, but applied his knowledge of business to the job.
“I wanted to control expenses, build a sustainable model and provide services for the community,” Andrews explained. “I took what we had here and created revenue lines while doing all our traditional stuff.”
Among the traditional things was the city’s after-school childcare program. When he came on board, the program had 30 children. Now, more than 80 children are part of the program.
Going a step further, Andrews tossed out an idea to board members of Gulf Beaches Little League to let the city host the league. But to do it, a switch to the Babe Ruth Baseball organization would be necessary. After experiencing another season of financial problems, the GBLL board saw the light and made the switch.
Today, the city’s athletic fields are home to Madeira Beach Youth Baseball and Softball, which sent a 12-under girl’s softball team to a fourth-place finish in the 2017 state tournament.
The league started with 67 kids and has expanded to 221 in 20 months. Revenue is over $40,000 per year.
All of these events, along with the recent Mad Beach Beer Fest, helped to build a 180-foot kids fishing pier that will open in the next couple of weeks next to the Recreation Center. The pier also will be used for the Fish Kids program, an interactive kids fishing event that teaches kids how to fish.
Meanwhile, the city’s youth summer camp set a record in 2016 with more than $61,000 in revenue, which increased 38 percent in 2017 to more than $84,000.
“I’m really all about the kids,” said Andrews,
But wait, there’s more. Andrews teamed up with the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission to bring a women’s college softball tournament to Madeira Beach. The event, hosted by Eastern Michigan University, started with eight teams two years ago. Next year, the tournament will have a field of 36 teams playing over three weekends, from February to early March, producing an estimated economic impact of $5,000 per weekend to the city.
“For many of the girls, it’s their first trip to Florida and they’re in awe of the field locations (next to ROC Park),” Andrews said. “Last year they had to stop a game when a huge sailboat went sailing by. The players couldn’t believe it. They couldn’t believe they were playing softball in such a beautiful place.”
In addition, the city still hosts a pair of King of the Beach fishing tournaments on the recreation fields and co-sponsors the Gulf Beaches Rotary Club’s annual spring carnival, which has generated $25,000 to the city in each of the last two years.
On top of that, the city is home to the annual Florida Cup Paddleboard Race in April, the Mad Beach Triathlon in June and the 5K Sunset Series, another money-maker for the city.
If running or cruising on a paddleboard aren’t your thing, the city offers an adult co-ed kickball league on Thursday nights. It also produces some modest revenue.
For seniors, there’s the Madeira Beach Social Club, which provides folks with trips to a variety of area attractions in a 20-passenger bus the city purchased in March for $56,000.
On a related front, Andrews is finalizing an agreement with the Tides Golf Club in Seminole to host a weekly senior men’s golf league. This too will produce extra revenue.
“I want to ultimately sustain $500,000 in revenue per year,” Andrews said. “I just want to see our programs grow.”