PLANS to rebrand Ballyearl Leisure Centre to capitalise on Rory McIlroy’s success hit a divot with councillors this week with one representative claiming the new designs came in over par.
At this month’s Leisure Committee plans were unveiled to change the logo of the Ballyearl facility to bring it into line with the council’s other services and as part of a refresh for the theatre and leisure centre in its 20th anniversary year.
The Courtyard Theatre with have a new logo similar to that of the Theatre at the Mill which will see the comedy and tragedy faces dropped from the corporate identity.
While the fitness side of the business will drop the word “leisure” from its identity and become “Ballyearl Golf Fitness Arts”.
However, Councillor John Scott criticised the new identity, he said: “To me it just does not sound right, it just doesn’t roll of the tongue and I find it baffling.”
Councillor Billy Webb responded: “I was never comfortable with the “Theatre at the Mill” and “Meet at the Mill” branding that was decided upon. To me that was always wrong, but it is where we are and not much can be done about it now.
“Following the presentation and submissions, I am more convinced with this change in identity and am happy to second the proposal.”
Councillor Marie Mackessy also backed the change, she added: “To me this makes good business sense. Many local people probably already know that Ballyearl has a golf course and driving range.
“But this will help promote that to people outside the borough. We want to attract more people to the facility and this could do just that.”
Ballyearl was a former farm building and the lands surrounding it were developed into a golf course by the previous owner who also built a theatre in the courtyard between the farmhouse and its outbuildings.
The facility was subsequently taken over by the council which added a driving range and fitness suite and in 1993 the facility opened to the public.
The council’s leisure and culture development manager said the rebrand would help the council capitalise on Rory McIlroy’s recent success and provide a much-needed boost to the golf side of the business.
She said Ballyearl’s golfing facilities were not performing as good as would be hoped and including the sport in the actual branding would, it’s hoped, publicise the facility better.
She added: “To call Ballyearl a leisure centre would not be a true reflection of what it has to offer compared with our other facilities in Sixmile and at the Valley. The current branding is also very bland and this change would help promote the unique blend of facilities on offer to the public.
“As well as giving the centre a fresh new brand this will help draw people to the unique venue that Ballyearl is and the variety of services it has to offer.”
She said that while the change may be “subtle” there were “sound business reasons” behind the change to help draw more people to the centre.
She said: “It’s very much the Ronseal approach to marketing in that it does exactly what it says on the tin. Our income from the golf side of the business has declined and we would hope it would do better.
“The Courtyard Theatre has performed well and we would hope this change would build on its success.”
The proposal and recommendation to change the image of Ballyearl was passed by 12 votes for and three against. Should the decision be ratified through council, as would be expected, the new identity will be phased in gradually in order to reduce costs to the council.
Meanwhile, councillors were also given a presentation on users’ opinion of the council’s leisure facilities during the committee meeting following a recent survey.
Almost 400 people responded to the ‘Active and Healthier Survey’ carried out by the council. The survey found that there were high levels of satisfaction with the council’s leisure facilities including the parks and leisure centres.
Seven out of 10 people said they were not members of the Zest gym membership programme, however, the majority said they used the council’s facilities because they were cheaper than other privately-owned facilities.
Meanwhile 31 per cent of those that responded said that the council’s leisure centres, theatres, play parks and museums did not cater for people aged over 65, while others said improvement in park facilities would encourage them to use them more often.
The results of the survey recommended providing more classes for specific age groups and more creche facilities as well as not flying flags from council-owned buildings.
Council deputy chief executive High Kelly said: “There is a lot of positives from this survey and where people have identified issues we will look to address them and where possible improve upon what we can offer. Overall the result are very encouraging and should be welcomed.”