The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Politics

July 12, 2014

Ken de la Bastide: Wigwam fate has long-range implications for city

The fate of the iconic Wigwam could have implications far beyond the city limits of Anderson in how the community is perceived not only in Indiana but also across the U.S.

As the saga surrounding efforts to save the Wigwam plays out — with more ups and downs than a roller coaster — it is making headlines across the country.

Few Indiana cities the size of Anderson has a facility that is readily attached to it. Can you name any?

Greg Winkler, director of the Anderson Economic Development Department, said the day after it was announced that a proposed deal with a private group of investors fell apart at the last minute, media were calling to ask about the Wigwam.

Winkler said he talked with reporters from the Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Times and New York Times.

Perception is everything in today’s distribution of news instantly via social media and the Internet.

If the Wigwam is saved, Winkler said it will make headlines in national media outlets, a positive story but nothing huge.

He said if the Wigwam falls victim to the wrecking ball, the news becomes huge and would put a negative perception on the city.

Let me add that I didn’t attend high school in Indiana. But during my travels, when people in surrounding states learn I’m from Anderson, they ask me about the Wigwam. It’s known to basketball fans.

People unfamiliar with the economic situation in Anderson will only see the destruction of a Hoosier basketball landmark in a city still struggling to overcome the loss of General Motors in the 1980s and 1990s.

After all, the Wigwam, with nearly 9,000 seats, is the second largest high school basketball arena in the country — topped only by Chrysler Fieldhouse in New Castle.

If the Wigwam is demolished, one has to wonder what the perception of the community will be among investors looking at Anderson.

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