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Wooden rowing boats to disappear from Amstel

31 January 2009 – The Oost District wants Rowing Centre Berlagebrug to cut costs. Tariffs may be raised by 50% and wooden rowing boats may be replaced by plastic ones, so as to cut maintenance costs.

The rowing centre, owned by the district, currently runs a deficit of over 250,000 euro per year on a total turnover of over 550,000 euro. At the initiative of local party Méérbelangen, the district has commissioned a study from consultancy AEF on privatising the centre.

AEF found that the district contributes 8.40 euro per rowing hour. Other sports facilities receive 2.30 to 4.60 euro per visitor per hour. Fifteen percent of the users of the rowing centre live in the Oost District and another 43% in the adjacent districts Centrum, Oud-Zuid and Zuideramstel.

The district wants to promote sport participation among youth, senior citizens and migrant women. There are no data on characteristics of the users of the rowing centre. AEF did find that they tend to live in richer neighbourhoods, but this may be explained in part by the fact that the centre is located close to the richest districts of Amsterdam.

Currently, participants pay 12 euro per hour for normal rowing courses. AEF suggests to raise the tariffs gradually over a three-year period so as to not put off users. The consultancy speaks of raising the tariffs by 50% but also of raising it to 15 euro.

AEF further recommends to spend 10,000 euro on marketing, which might raise income by 30,000 euro.

The rowing centre is not only exceptional in that it still uses mainly wooden shells, but also unique in offering easily accessible eight-week rowing courses without requiring participants to become members of a rowing club.

Some 1,800 people per year follow rowing courses at the centre. In addition, the centre is used by schools and by businesses. Currently, the centre is closed because ice might damage the shells.

Photo JPH Luijnenburg / Wikipedia


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