Meet Me at The Jones Center
A Premier Recreational Destination
in Northwest Arkansas
May, 2013 | Celebrate Arkansas Magazine
Lap swimming. Toddler birthday parties. SEC hockey games. Craft Fair. Piano recitals. After-school programs. Tae Kwon Do. Business Trainings. Weddings. Bluegrass concerts. Algebra Class. You never know what is happening at The Jones Center! A premier recreational destination in Northwest Arkansas since 1995, The Jones Center’s impact on the community is enormous as it delivers quality of life to the region.
“We have great recreational offerings with our year-round ice rink and swimming pools, and are currently expanding and updating our Fitness Center. We offer a wide variety of youth, education and healthy living programs in conjunction with our first-rate collaborative partners NWACC, Camp War Eagle, American Red Cross, NTI and the Schmieding Foundation,” says CEO Ed Clifford. “What we do here at the Center has great impact and closely aligns with the new EnergizeNWA initiative launched by the NWA Council and Endeavor Foundation.”
Youth programs at the Center include a summer youth camp, after-school and mentoring activities, while healthy living offerings include first aid/CPR, stretch and flex, balanced bodies and water movement classes. Meanwhile, the Center’s new recreational director, Michael Kirk, is busily adding new recreational offerings including monthly teen skate parties, Zumba, self-defense, Kindermusik, water aerobics, boot camp and piano lessons. Kirk anticipates introducing preschooler gymnastics in the fall of 2013 as well as such structured sports such as flag football, indoor soccer and basketball.
Another core offering that The Jones Center provides is meeting and conference space at very competitive rates to community residents, nonprofit groups and businesses, accommodating groups from 10 to 300. According to Clifford, The Jones Center can offer meeting options that no one else can: “Where else can you have a team meeting, catered lunch and then a rousing game of broomball? Or a family night complete with pizza, swimming and a movie?”
Receiving no government funding, The Jones Center is supported through individual donations, major gifts, grants, sponsorships, user fees, memberships and room rental fees. Special events also play an important role in raising important operating funds, with this year’s 7th annual Friends of The Jones Center Golf Outing anticipated to raise over $100,000. General Mills will be the event’s title sponsor for the second year in a row.
This year’s committee chairs are Scott Huff of Walmart and Ron Brophy of General Mills. “We are so appreciative of General Mills and their wonderful continued support, and to Scott and Ron for their leadership and hard work,” remarked Kelly Kemp-McLintock, chief advancement officer at The Jones Center. “Scott really challenged us to raise the bar on this event, and this year’s will be the best we’ve ever had!” The outing is on September 3o at the Springdale Country Club.
Last October, the Center introduced individual and family gym and pool memberships to provide a value-added option to visitors, and the Center already has over 1,000 members. With underwriting from the Walmart Foundation, the Center has introduced a scholarship program designed to keep its services and programs accessible to the Northwest Arkansas community.
In 2012, the Jones Trust board also pledged to raise funds to supplement the existing $23 million endowment, moving the Center towards sustainability. In December 2012, the Walton Family Foundation issued a 1:2 match challenge to give $10 million upon the raising of an additional $20 million. The CARE Foundation pledged and paid $10 million towards the match, leaving an additional $10 million to be raised by June 2014 in order to get the full match. The Walton Family Foundation also pledged $1 million annually for three years to support capital improvements.
And how widely is The Jones Center used? According to a survey released in February by The Walton Family Foundation, 41 percent of the respondents had visited the Center over the past 12 months (only Crystal Bridges had a higher response rate with 42 percent). The survey also clearly showed a regional audience with a number of visitors from Fayetteville, Bentonville and Rogers.
A delighted Clifford grins, “Being compared to Crystal Bridges puts us in fine company.” Clifford anticipates seeing usage climb even further with all the new offerings that the Center has, particularly since the Razorback Greenway trails system will have a trailhead on the campus. He adds, “One of our partners, Youth Strategies, will operate a student-led bicycle shop on our campus along the trail system, and we figure we’re about halfway on the 36-mile trail route. The new buzz around the region will be ‘Meet me at The Jones Center!’”
48,000 visited our indoor ice arena
45,000 swam in our two indoor pools
78,000 exercised in our gym and fitness center
25,500 youths participated in youth activities
150,000 visited for a community event