ANDERSON – When people around Indiana put a face with Anderson basketball they picture “Jumpin” Johnny Wilson, who added his name to those supporting the effort to revitalize the famed Wigwam.
The five board members of the Wigwam Sports & Entertainment (WSE) LLC were in Anderson on Wednesday to meet with members of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce at Flagship Enterprise Center.
Wilson said that when he traveled around the U.S. and people learned he was from Anderson they wanted to know about the Wigwam.
“This group is very sincere,” Wilson said of WSE.
“Everything worthwhile in Anderson is torn down, the city is going to pot,” he said. “This is a chance to build something up that is really worthwhile. The greatest thing would be to have the Wigwam back in operation.”
Terry Thimlar, president of WSE, said it has been a 2 ½-year process working with the city of Anderson and Anderson Community Schools to get to the point where the Wigwam complex can be revitalized.
He said there is a commitment from the Indiana Pacers to play an annual exhibition game in the Wigwam once it reopens and board member TNN sportscaster Craig Sager wants to bring in current and former NBA stars to Anderson for a celebrity basketball game.
Thimlar said there are five areas that can generate revenue for the maintaining and operation of the facility. He said those were the arena, auditorium, classrooms, lower level and auxiliary wing.
“The arena will drive revenues at the start,” he said. “It will open first."
The group estimates it will cost $125,000 to open the Wigwam gym. They said the entrances and locker rooms have to be renovated.
Thimlar said possible events included professional wrestling, roller derby matches, AAU and IHSAA basketball tournaments, gymnastic events, NBA and summer basketball camps.