By Maury Thompson, The Post Star
GLENS FALLS, NY — The Coalition to Save Our Civic Center has won its bid to purchase the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Now, the work begins to reduce red ink at the financially struggling arena and sustain the building as a community resource for years to come, said Ed Moore, a leader of the group of about 30 local business owners.
“We just feel that we’re all community-minded people. ... We are here for the city for the long haul,” said Moore, owner of French Mountain Commons and Log Jam outlet centers in Queensbury.
The Glens Falls Common Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to sell the Civic Center to the coalition, one of two bidders for the city-owned arena.
Immediately after the Common Council meeting, the coalition presented Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond with a check for a required $60,000 non-refundable deposit.
The Coalition bid $600,000 under a five-year lease-purchase agreement, with $405,000 to be paid by spring 2015.
Adirondack Sports & Entertainment, the only other bidder, bid $800,000 to purchase the building outright.
Adirondack Sports & Entertainment wanted to establish a youth hockey academy at the Civic Center while continuing its traditional use for concerts and sporting events.
Before the vote, Kevin McCloskey and Phil Pulley, two of three partners in the group, made a final push for their bid.
“I will stand before you and tell you that the Civic Center needs a lot of love. It needs regentrification,” said Pulley, who owns a construction company and three hockey rinks in the Philadelphia region.
“Tonight you can operate out of fear or opportunity,” said McCloskey, a former minor league hockey player. “At the end of the day, this is not an ownership issue. This is an economic issue.”
McCloskey said his group, a private corporation, would pay property taxes on the arena, while the coalition, a nonprofit development corporation, would not.
Diamond said Adirondack Sports & Entertainment did not meet the city’s requirement to show a checking account statement or certified letter of credit from a bank to prove the group had sufficient finances to buy the arena and pay property taxes that would be due in the spring.
Mark Schachner, a lawyer for the academy group, said Pulley submitted a letter to the city from UBS, an international investment firm, that documented he has more than $1 million in assets that can be liquidated to purchase the arena.
Diamond said the letter did not meet the stipulation city officials and partners of the academy group had agreed to.
“It means nothing to me,” said Diamond, who said he was not familiar with UBS.
Schachner chided the mayor for not accepting the UBS letter as documentation.
“Nobody would leave
$1 million in their checking account. No intelligent person would,” he said.
Schachner asked if any Common Council members had questions or comments.
No Common Council members spoke.
The coalition, in the next few weeks, will form a board of directors to oversee operation of the arena, Moore said after the meeting.
“We’re hoping to hit the ground running,” he said.
The board will seek government and private grants for the arena, and will develop a plan to streamline operations and attract more events.
The coalition will be able to use the city’s $675,000 state grant for arena improvements, Diamond said.
Matching fund requirements will be negotiated with the state, and most likely could be met with in-kind services, with the arena remaining under city ownership for five years, said Edward Bartholomew, president of EDC Warren County.
If the building was under private ownership, 80 percent local matching funds would be required, he said.
Under terms of the sale, the Coalition must honor contracts with the Adirondack Flames, of the
American Hockey League, the arena’s anchor tenant, and with Global Spectrum, the company that manages the arena.
The Adirondack Flames contract is for three seasons, beginning this season, with an option to renew for up to two additional seasons.
Brian Petrovek, president of the Adirondack Flames, is a member of the coalition.
The Global Spectrum management contract expires in April 2016.
McCloskey said after the meeting that his group will now look at other arenas that are for sale.
“We can take our sports tourism dollars elsewhere. There’s plenty of cities where we can take our sports academy,” he said.
Diamond has said he would like the academy to be a tenant at the Civic Center under Coalition ownership.
McCloskey said he met Tuesday afternoon with Petrovek to discuss the feasibility, but it does not look likely.
“At the end of the day, we need to be able to control the resources in the building to make that work,” he said.