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Ownership change backed for Anderson's Wigwam gym

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The Anderson School Board has decided to support a plan that would give a private group control of the closed 9,000-seat Wigwam gymnasium if it can come up with the money to reopen it.

The board voted Tuesday night to approve a resolution allowing the transfer of ownership for the longtime home of the Anderson High School Indians basketball teams to the city Redevelopment Commission.

The Wigwam Sports & Entertainment group has until June 25 to demonstrate the financial viability of its plans to repair and operate the gymnasium as a venue for various events in order for the transfer to move forward, The Herald Bulletin reported.

The group said it is within 14 percent of its needed funding amounts. It is trying to raise more than $1 million.

"We continue to add investors on a daily basis, and project we will reach our required funding," Wigwam Sports officials said in a statement.

The school district has advertised for demolition bids on the gymnasium, which it closed in 2011 as a cost-cutting move. The cost of tearing down the gym complex that also includes classrooms and offices has been estimated at $500,000.

The Wigwam was built in 1962, and the only larger high school gym in the country is the Fieldhouse in nearby New Castle.

School Board President Ben Gale said district officials are making every effort to save the gym while also preparing for its possible demolition.

"This building could become an important part of the community again," he said.

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