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Transfer of Anderson gym awaits additional approval

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The Anderson City Council will have to approve the city's involvement in the transfer of the closed 9,000-seat Wigwam gymnasium to a private group planning to reopen it.

That step is needed because of a change in state law that took effect last week requiring such approval for property deals involving city redevelopment commissions.

If the City Council approves the deal during its Thursday meeting, control of the gym could be transferred to Wigwam Sports & Entertainment within days, Anderson Redevelopment Commission attorney Ann Marie Bauer told The Herald Bulletin.

The Anderson School Board closed the longtime home of the Anderson High School Indians basketball teams in 2011 as a cost-cutting move.

The school district is expected to provide $100,000 to Wigwam Sports, which will put the private group over its goal to raise $600,000 to obtain and make the Wigwam complex ready for use, said Greg Winkler, director of the Anderson Economic Development Department.

School district officials have said it would have cost an estimated $700,000 to demolish the Wigwam complex and mitigate asbestos in the building, which also includes classrooms and offices.

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

Winkler said the city might also provide $100,000 in food-and-beverage tax revenue to Wigwam Sports in exchange for a reduced rate for holding events in the building.

Organizers plan to operate the gymnasium as a venue for various events and have had discussion with a foundation and a not-for-profit organization about the potential use of the classroom space.

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