For sale by auction: Glens Falls, 1979 arena with 160,000 square feet over 3.5 downtown acres. Home of American Hockey League franchise and site of some epic concerts and sporting events over the years. Seats/stands roughly 5,000. Operates at a loss. Bidding Aug. 18 at arena starts at $1.5 million; bring at least 10 percent with you. Must honor existing deals with hockey team and management group. For more information, See City Hall …
The city-owned Glens Falls Civic Center, a fixture that has been operating at a loss, will go up for sale in a public auction later this summer, Mayor Jack Diamond said.
The mayor said the cash-strapped city “has no choice.”
As part of any deal with the city, the winning bidder would have to honor the lease for the newly arrived Adirondack Flames of the AHL as well as the management agreement with Global Spectrum.
Operating losses and debt for the city-owned building have been a drain on Glens Falls’ general fund. Diamond maintains the sale would not have to be put up for a referendum, but noted any and all bids could be rejected by the Common Council.
“We’ve been dealing with operating losses since 1979,” Diamond said. “Now is the time to look at a way to rectify the problem, if we can, and turn it over to the private sector.
“We have to prioritize those expenses. Something has to give for the city. We have no choice. We have to try to sell.”
Diamond said talks with the Warren County Board of Supervisors to raise the occupancy tax for the county by 4 to 5 percent and dedicate the proceeds to the civic center have been unsuccessful.
The city puts in more than $600,000 to operate the arena and pay off debt. There is a projected shortfall of $900,000 this year based on events booked thus far.
“We are one of the few arenas in the United States that is subsidized by 14,400 people,” the mayor said. “We can’t do that anymore.” He added that the sale of naming rights, while helpful, would not bring in enough to offer the city sufficient financial relief. He said Glens Falls would have to find an ongoing infusion of $400,000 a year to keep operating the facility.
The civic center was appraised at more than $1.8 million, and that was before the Calgary Flames minor league affiliate agreed earlier this year to relocate from Abbotsford, British Columbia, to Glens Falls, the mayor said.
The Common Council must approve holding the auction, but the mayor said the body is on board. Councilman at-large Dan Hall said it appears the city has exhausted almost every other avenue.
“We’ve been trying,” Hall said. “I’ve been on the council five years, trying to get the burden off the taxpayers. It’s been very difficult.”
Diamond said he did not want to speculate at this time what the city would do if it didn’t get satisfactory bids. The auction will be held at 11 a.m. on Aug. 18. A buyer will have to immediately put down 10 percent.
“I’ll hand over the keys,” Diamond said, “and let them drive the Zamboni.”