RSI SPORTS Dome - the Essential Link That Will Push HV EHC Further Up the Ladder
Its historical results will certainly make the men’s team of Dutch handball club EHC worthy contenders in the highest Dutch handball league, the Eredivisie, for the coming season. They have the confidence, knowing that their main facility, an RSI SPORTS Dome, will certainly make it the best equipped club in the league.
Handball club EHC is a healthy club that plays an important role within the greater municipal region of The Hague. The club has three senior male teams, two senior female teams and twelve youth teams. To safeguard the future of the club, EHC decided to invest in a sports dome in 2018. “The ever-increasing rent we were paying for renting indoor facilities became a burden to the club,” admits Wouter van Doeland, who is responsible for the general affairs within the club. “As we foresaw that these costs would continue increasing in the future to an extent it would become really unbearable, we decided to explore the possibility of covering the two outdoor fields at our own facility.” In addition to removing the burden of paying rental fees to external parties, having all members at its own facility every week would also improve the social cohesion amongst members. Furthermore, income generated from selling snacks and drinks could be added to the finances of the club. “Last but not least, it would allow us to plan more training sessions for our youth teams and to plan these in a more flexible way to accommodate a handball school. This flexibility would allow us to save additional costs.”
EHC is now the proud owner of an RSI SPORTS Dome. “With its size of 45 x 35m, it hands us one fully covered field that complies with the compulsory dimensions in the highest Dutch league. On match days, we can even bring in stands to accommodate the spectators, media and officials. To them, attending the game is a marvellous experience, as they sit right up near the edge of the field,” Van Doeland continues. The dome has also been positioned so that the floor can be converted into two smaller sized fields that are suitable for training purposes.
Van Doeland admits that an airdome wasn’t immediately top of the list as a possible solution for HV EHC. “The business case for a sports dome wasn’t clear to us initially. However, the more we started to investigate the various options and the associated maintenance costs, the more our enthusiasm for owning a sports dome grew.” He hails the guidance and support the club received from Anton van Oirschot of RSI SPORTS. “Anton went to great length to explain the advantages and to help us fill in the business case. He even went as far as joining us when we had to present our plans to the local fire department.” One of the biggest eye-openers for the club was the possibility of reducing costs by using members to erect and dismantle the dome. “You don’t require specialist expertise: all it takes is a group of members for half a day to make it happen. We are confident that our members will join in, as our membership is made up of entire families with a strong connection to the club. Being members of the club makes them feel as if they are being draped in a warm blanket,” Van Doeland says. Furthermore, the idea of being able to host both an indoor and outdoor season attracted the club too. “Playing outdoors always has a special dimension.”
Business Case Support
Challenges to understand the business case are nothing new, says Anton van Oirschot of RSI SPORTS. “Although local legislation always addresses the same main issues, the finer details differ per municipality. It requires experience and understanding of the product to provide the input that satisfies the authorities.”. The latest generation sports domes are much more advanced than those that were popular at the turn of the century. “Our sports dome is a self-standing structure that doesn’t use cables or netting. Instead, it uses strategically placed anchors to fix it to the ground.” The absence of cables or netting means that anything that falls on it, will slide off immediately. More importantly, it takes away the risk of the dome collapsing in winter. “Snow or ice won’t accumulate on the roof but will automatically slide down, as it has nothing to hold on to.” The self-supporting structure is stable and strong enough to remain upright in any weather condition. “Our sports dome uses a double membrane that creates many individual air pockets that insulate the whole structure and also keep the dome in an upright position. Furthermore, the sports dome is fitted with its own weather station that automatically adjusts the indoor pressure to mitigate the impact of severe weather conditions.” An RSI SPORTS dome is capable of handling the toughest weather conditions, he points out. “The same applies to acts of vandalism. This will not affect the structure, while the damage can be repaired very quickly.”
Financed by Crowd-funding
The new RSI SPORTS dome is partly funded by the club and partly with the help of members and sponsors. “We have issued certificates of various denominations. These certificates are being paid off linearly by the club over a period of 10 years. The owners receive 2.5% interest annually,” Wouter van Doeland explains. HV EHC is confident that the savings made from no longer having to rent indoor space elsewhere, plus the income generated from serving snacks and drinks, will be sufficient to cover the cost. However, the installation of the sports dome has seen the club becoming an interested party for other organisations too. “We have been approached by a local high-school as well as an after-care institution. Both are now renting the space from us in the off-hours.” He is confident that the presence and quality of the dome will help the club to attract additional sponsors and members too. “Our sportsdome really looks awesome when I see a match of our main team being televised on TV,” Van Doeland adds. How successful the drive to increase the interest of (new) members has been, is best voiced by Ralf Lucas, the chairman of the club. In a clip he produced in Spring this year, he says: “Things are going well for the club but what really pleases us is that we continue registering new members. Many new members or their parents claim that ‘This is the club where I want to register myself or my child’. For a club growing its membership during a period like this, to me, proves that we are going strong.” In his finishing line he hits it spot on where he says: “I thank you for your interest and your loyalty. That is something that will always pay off.” HV EHC has no doubt the RSI SPORTS dome will become a roaring success.
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