There were few answers for the more than 400 members who attended an information session at ClubCatalina on Wednesday night hoping to learn the fate of the former Batemans Bay Bowling Club.
Instead they heard the amalgamated clubs’ board was exploring options to save the facilities and making every effort to ensure bowls could continue.
Men’s Bowling president Ross McKimm said members did feel more reassured by the news that the club was trying to work its way through the problems.
CEO Daryl Wilson put it straight - the club was now at a financial “tipping point” where it must improve or “go down”.
“The bank could bring us down with one phone call. We have to demonstrate to our bankers ClubCatalina can return to a strong position,” Mr Wilson told the meeting.
He revealed the club had a $5.6 million overdraft, the cost to service its borrowings was $400,000, and it had been unable to pay off debt in recent years. Costs had risen, including the money spent on marketing and wages.
“We need to trade and operate much smarter,” he said.
“It is costing us too much to run the shop. We owe too much money, borrowings must be reduced.”
Mr Wilson said the amalgamation of ClubCatalina with the Batemans Bay Bowling Club had cost $2.6 million.
However club president Bob Soper said the sports and leisure venue was not about to close and said there was still a future for bowls in Batemans Bay.
“We don’t have all the answers yet,” he said, adding that some options had now opened up.
He said bowls may well continue at the venue although there could be a reduction in opening hours or services.
“But at the moment we will continue to let bowlers bowl,” Mr Soper said.
“We are not there to close things but to find ways all parts of ClubCatalina can go forward.”
Mr Soper said the club did not have the right to sell-off the assets of the amalgamated club until three years had passed, unless it was shown that because of the money it was losing both clubs would go down the drain.
“But that’s not where we are at the moment,” he quickly reassured the members.
“We would seriously like to think bowls can be maintained albeit in a slightly different structure.”
Some of the options include selling or leasing part of the complex to other users.
“I can’t go further than that as the process has to go through with these people who have shown an interest, a process that everyone would be happy with.”
He said the club’s future now looked better than it had done.
Regarding the ongoing financial problems, Mr Wilson said the club has met with its bank and negotiated a one per cent interest reduction that would produce $50,000 savings in the financial year.
Mr Wilson said many small clubs across NSW were struggling with a shrinking membership base and falling revenue stream.
He said ClubCatalina must now focus on its core business, gaming, drive income, cut costs, and reduce its debt.