Sportsplex proposes plan for Pelham Civic Complex

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A representative with the Sportsplex of America company during a Sept. 10 work session told members of the Pelham City Council the company would like to purchase the Pelham Civic Complex and make several renovations to the complex’s two ice rinks.

During the meeting, Sportsplex representative Pat DeLorenzo told council members the company would make between $3 million-$4 million in upgrades to the facility if it was able to make a deal with the city to purchase the property.

The Sept. 10 meeting marked the second time in about three months DeLorenzo has spoken with the council about Sportsplex’s interest in purchasing the Civic Complex. DeLorenzo previously said Sportsplex would look to build another ice skating facility in Hoover if the company is not able to reach a deal with Pelham.

During the work session, current Council President Teresa Nichols said DeLorenzo’s presentation was directed at Mayor-elect Gary Waters and the newly elected City Council members who will take office on Nov. 5.

“The purpose of this is so we can keep listening,” said Nichols, whose term will end in November.

DeLorenzo said if Sportsplex purchases the Civic Complex, the company will install retractable seating in the facility’s main ice arena “that come right to the board” surrounding the ice, will renovate, expand and build new locker rooms to allow the facility to host more events and will update the facility’s equipment.

“The rink is 16 or 17 years old, the technology there is nowhere near where it has evolved now. There are better ways to make your facility more efficient,” DeLorenzo said. “You are paying way too much for ice-making.”

If the company purchases the complex, it will assume about $4 million-$5 million in debt the city owes on the property. Pelham officials previously said the city loses about $1 million per year on the complex.

“You’ve got a great opportunity, but you need to have the right people running it,” DeLorenzo said.

Waters said he currently is not in favor of selling the complex “to anyone,” and said most Pelham residents want to keep the facility city-owned.

“Unless I was hard of hearing while I was campaigning, I heard the majority of people in Pelham are in favor of keeping it city-owned,” Waters said after the meeting. “He did not say a single thing tonight that we could not do on our own.

“I heard nothing tonight that makes me think that selling the Pelham Civic Complex would be a good idea,” Waters added. “Could I change my mind in the future? Sure. But I heard nothing tonight that would make me do so now.”