The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


July 12, 2014

Editorial: There's still hope to save the Wigwam

You could hear more than the sound of purse strings breaking when the deal to sell the Wigwam fell through last week.

There were some hearts and dreams broken, too.

Faced with a Tuesday deadline, the Wigwam Sports & Entertainment group of private investors was nearing completion of the paperwork to buy the iconic high school gym from the Anderson Redevelopment Commission. WSE had made it known that it wanted to bring an NBA D-League team to the city. Then on Tuesday, the deal collapsed.

Although there is still hope for the Redevelopment Commission to find a buyer, the more ominous deadline is now Sept. 2. That's the day that bids to demolish the building — bids already accepted by Anderson Community Schools — will expire.

It seems like the Wigwam can't get a break.

The building was closed in 2011. Anderson Community Schools had estimated that it would cost between $3 million and $5.5 million to preserve the building and an additional $3.1 million to $4.1 million investment to make the facility ready for use.

After the building was shuttered, there was talk of bringing a Native American basketball team here. There was talk that local residents also wanted to save the structure. A blue ribbon panel was formed to seek a developer.

Then, earlier this year, there came promising news from Terry Thimlar with the Florida- based WSE. The proposal was then fueled by the announcement in May that the Teague family, including NBA players Jeff and Marquis Teague, would become investors.

When everything seemed to fall through last week, there were echoes of the unsuccessful Farm project, which couldn't get financing in place for a baseball complex on the city's south side.

The Wigwam is still worth saving. Reflective of memories past, the gym is a structure that could provide future entertainment, and classrooms, too. Andersonians who love the Wigwam have been on a roller-coaster ride. But the acknowledgement of the costs of rehabilitating the site is becoming all too evident.

To say local residents were disappointed in the latest news is understating the reaction. Some were shattered. Others confused.

There is still hope, of course. And that's turning into the motto of the Wigwam.


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