The Herald Bulletin
---- — Taken at face value, the Blue Ribbon Committee's approval of a plan to preserve the Wigwam makes perfect sense. But how much is the face value worth?
The Wigwam was opened in 1961 and closed on March 8, 50 years later. It is the second largest high school gymnasium in the world and has been the subject of many stories published nationwide.
Thomas J. Snyder, the committee chairman, said that the plan, put forth by Wigwam Sports and Entertainment's founders Terry Thimlar and Mark Rowe, has potential. That plan calls for a wide variety of sporting events, primarily an NBA Developmental League team and high school basketball games. But it also calls for use of the gym for concerts that might be too large for a place like the Paramount.
Unfortunately, the support of this plan might not be a big step forward. The plan might have been the only viable option currently on the table, plus the source of the funds needed to make the plan a reality are still to be determined.
Anderson Community Schools has said that between $6 million and $9 million would be needed to make repairs to the venerable structure and get it in operating shape. Even if those figures are inflated, the money source is still to be determined. It is widely thought that some private investment would be needed as well as some corporate involvement with possible naming rights and perhaps even some funding from the city.
ACS has said that a plan must be presented by March 1 or the plans for the gym's demolition will go forward. ACS has also said that help is needed beyond March 1 for upkeep expenses while any plan is being put into motion.
Since that means the deadline is less than two months away, any progress is to be applauded. But turning this proposal's approval into a solution for keeping the Wigwam away from the wrecking ball is still quite a long way off.
Summary The plan to re-open the Wigwam sounds feasible, but many questions remain.