By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Discussions are continuing on an extension of the deadline to preserve the Wigwam complex through the end of June.
The Anderson Community School Corp., which owns the Wigwam complex, originally set a March 1 deadline for a private developer to take ownership of the facility or ACS would move forward with demolition plans.
The Blue Ribbon Committee, established by Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith in December, has voted to support a proposal to preserve the historic complex by Wigwam Sports Entertainment (WSE).
“The Blue Ribbon Committee, with the assistance of the Wigwam Sports Entertainment LLC, has the workings of a temporary offer of support on the table for consideration by the ACS board,” Greg Winkler, director of the Anderson Economic Development Department, said Tuesday.
Winkler said details of the offer will be made public when finalized or at the March 11 school board meeting.
“This offer will give the WSE until the end of June to complete the process of attracting and qualifying investors,” he said. “Given the progress that the WSE has had over the past several months in securing investors, the Wigwam Blue Ribbon Committee believes that the chances of success have improved.”
Four organizations, including the city and ACS, an individual and WSE have agreed to cover the costs incurred by the school system for the next four months. Those costs include utilities, insurance and the alarm system.
“The LLC has stepped up to the plate,” Winkler said. “They’re providing upfront money as part of the offer.”
If approved by the ACS board, the deadline would be extended from March 1 to June 30.
Tom Snyder, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, said the monthly costs range from $6,600 to $7,900 per month.
He said ACS has estimated the cost of reopening the Wigwam as a multi-use recreational facility at $116,000.
Snyder said WSE is looking to raise $1 million and is offering shares at a cost of $5,000.
He said the Wigwam complex provides double the floor space that is available in the Paramount Theatre ballroom. There is a verbal commitment for two events per year at the facility.
“This gives us a year,” Snyder said of the temporary offer.
Tim Edsell, interim superintendent of Anderson Community Schools, said the school system will continue to incur some of the operating costs, specifically insurance and preservation of the Wigwam.
“This most recent offer has been provided to the board president,” he said. “We want to give the board some time to study the offer and determine a direction to take.”
Edsell said ACS is open to partnering with WSE, but it will be a board decision.
ACS had estimated 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 usable.
Those estimates have been questioned by both the Blue Ribbon Committee and WSE.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.
What's next - Temporary offer could extend Wigwam deadline to June 30 - School board to learn details on March 11. - Four organizations, developer and individual to defray Wigwam operating costs for 4 months.