ANDERSON, Ind. — The future of the Wigwam complex depends on funding by several local groups to pay utility and maintenance costs.
A private investment group is in the process of raising funds to reopen the storied high school gym and has received the endorsement of a Blue Ribbon Committee appointed by Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith.
Wigwam Sports and Entertainment LLC, through the leadership of Terry Thimlar, is raising funds to revitalize the Wigwam as a sports and entertainment venue.
The organization has launched a website to provide information to the community.
The group is facing a March 1 deadline set by the Anderson Community Schools board to develop a feasible plan to maintain and operate the facility or it could be demolished in the coming months.
School officials have estimated the cost to preserve the Wigwam at up to $5.5 million and an additional $4.1 million to reopen and bring the facility back to a usable condition.
Kevin Brown, business manager for ACS, said an appraisal done at the request of the Blue Ribbon Committee has determined the building has no value. He said the property is appraised at $191,000 if the building is demolished at a potential cost of $500,000.
“We will work with anyone on the building,” Brown said. “It has to be a responsible party that has the financial resources to operate and maintain the facility.”
Brown said that ACS would be willing to turn over ownership of the Wigwam complex at little or no cost if they have the financial backing and present a practical use for the facility.
He said the March 1 deadline could be extended by ACS, but only if other groups are willing to pay the utility, maintenance and insurance costs in the future.
Those costs are estimated at between $20,000 and $30,000 per month. Brown said the school system doesn’t want to continue funding those expenses.