Pelham council to look into option of selling civic complex

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

PELHAM — In a Pelham City Council pre-council meeting work session June 18, council members Teresa Nichols, Ron Scott, Bill Meadows, Steve Powell and Karyl Rice, along with Pelham Mayor Don Murphy, heard from Bryan Schultz and Pat DeLorenzo regarding the possibility of SportsPlex of America, LLC. purchasing the Pelham Civic Complex.

Schultz said the company plans to either renovate the Pelham Civic Complex or construct a new property in Hoover to provide an ice facility and ice-related activities on two sheets of ice year round in the Birmingham area.

DeLorenzo, an off-ice National Hockey League official, said the company has done market studies in the Birmingham area, including talking to high school athletic directors, and said the market is ripe for an expanded ice skating facility. Shelby County schools Spain Park High School and Pelham High School have club ice hockey teams, but the sport isn’t yet sanctioned by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

“An ice business with proper people, equipment and programs could be something that grows in this area,” DeLorenzo told council members.

Nichols said the city council must consult attorneys to see if it is even possible for the City of Pelham to sell the property. Nichols asked Schultz and DeLorenzo if the company would be interested in leasing the property if it couldn’t be sold, and the pair left open the possibility of leasing the Pelham Civic Complex.

Nichols also asked if the City of Pelham could continue having events at the complex, such as the Pelham High School graduation and city tree-lighting ceremony, and Schultz and DeLorenzo said the company would gladly allow the city to use the property for special events.

Rice, who noted Pelham High School didn’t have a space to hold its graduation and the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce didn’t have a place to hold chamber luncheons before the Pelham Civic Complex was built, said being allowed to continue to host events at the complex is important.

“It’s not draining taxpayers’ money,” Rice said. “It is an asset to this city.”

City officials previously said the Civic Complex has been losing between $900,000 and $1 million a year for more than a decade.

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said he is in favor of any plan that will help reduce the amount of money spent on Pelham Civic Complex expenses.

“I love the facility,” Murphy said. “I’d love to see the (attendance) numbers coming up. I want to get these expenses down for the taxpayers.”

Council members asked Finance Director Tom Seale to research the City of Pelham’s ability to sell the property and asked him to provide additional information at the July 2 work session.

“We’ll begin our conversations and see where that leads us,” Nichols said.