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Two Groups Bid For Glens Falls Civic Center

The Glens Falls Civic Center first opened its doors in 1979.
The Glens Falls Civic Center first opened its doors in 1979.

After no offers were made for the Glens Falls Civic Center at a public auction last month, two bidders have come forward to the city government with plans to purchase the publicly owned arena.

The city has been looking to sell its arena, which is standing in about $1.3 million in debt. No bidders stepped forward at the public auction in August, where the city had set the minimum bid at $1.5 million. But since then, the aging arena has attracted some attention.

At a meeting before the Glens Falls Common Council on Monday, two bidders for the Glens Falls Civic Center made presentations outlining their intentions.

During the past several weeks, a group of more than 30 Glens Falls area business owners and executives have formed the Coalition To Save Our Civic Center. The Coalition put forward the $600,000 it has raised toward a five-year lease/purchase agreement.   

The Coalition is seeking to form a non-profit organization to purchase the Civic Center. Coalition member Dan Burke….

“ We need to start putting together a board of the organization we are currently forming, it would be a 501(c)(3). We’re not trying to get ahead of the legal process, but I think we need to put the board in place so we’ve got more feet on the ground and people asking for money, and things like that, because one of the things in our plan was to get another $400,000 in capital raised in the next five or six weeks.”

At the same meeting, bidder Adirondack Sports & Entertainment Inc., headed by former minor league hockey player Kevin McCloskey, outlined its plan to establish a youth hockey academy at the Civic Center. McCloskey said the model would provide use for the building beyond its role as the home for the minor league Adirondack Flames and institutional events including the yearly high school boys’ basketball tournaments.

“We want to use the facility approximately another 160 days a year to run our high-end hockey academy, and when I say ‘high-end,’ we’re looking for the elite players that are looking to move on to Division I college, pro careers. And that’s why I think our plan really sustains the Civic Center. “

McCloskey’s group has bid $1.5 million.

McCloskey said the current model of only hosting 65 event-days a year has not worked out for the Civic Center. He said he would consider ideas from members of the Coalition, but the organizations do have their fundamental differences.

Under terms set by the city, the new owner would need to honor the three-year contract with the Adirondack Flames. Flames President and CEO Brian Petrovek has joined the Coalition.

McCloskey said he’s excited to work with the Flames, but also has doubts that the Civic Center can sustain American League Hockey in the long-term, in part due to the size and facilities in the arena.

“This is a 5,000-seat building, and for our kids, this building is the Taj Mahal,” said McCloskey, “So we value this building greatly, we value this community greatly, because it is a tremendous community, it is a hockey community, and the building for us works beautifully because our kids think it’s the best. Whereas the American Hockey League would look at it and say ‘Geez, it looks kind of old and antiquated.’”

Dan Burke said the Coalition would be flexible with Adirondack Sports & Entertainment.

“We could work together if we had the building, we could certainly rent ice time to him for the purpose of having his school there and locker rooms and all the details that need to be figured out for that, but we have not had those conversations,” said Burke. “But I certainly see them happening depending on which way the bid is awarded.”

Both Burke and McCloskey said they had held discussions with city leaders since Monday’s meeting, and they don’t expect a decision to be made until next month. A call to Mayor Jack Diamond’s office was not returned Thursday.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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