City gets Colisee nibble

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LEWISTON – The city’s request for proposals seeking a private owner for the Colisee drew one response. The ice arena’s directors will consider it at their next meeting.

“This was an open-ended query, to see who was available and whether or not they have the financial wherewithal required,” City Administrator Jim Bennett said Monday. “Now, it’s up to the board to see if they want to go forward or not.”

Bennett said he will not reveal where the proposal came from or who was behind it until it has been presented to the Lewiston Urban Civic Center Enterprises LLC, the group formed by the City Council to manage the ice arena. That group is scheduled to meet July 10.

“They will review (the proposal) and consider it and make a recommendation to the City Council,” Bennett said.

Councilors began looking for potential buyers in May, asking for proposals from private parties interested in buying the Androscoggin Bank Colisee – including the ice arena building, the land under it and the parking lots.

The city took proposal letters until City Hall closed Friday.

Any buyer would have to continue providing ice time for the Lewiston Maineiacs, the city’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team, as well as free or discounted ice time for the Lewiston High School hockey team and the Lewiston junior hockey program. A new owner also would have to make the arena available free of charge for Lewiston High School graduations and the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council’s annual Business to Business Trade Show.

A buyer would also be required to honor the city’s contract with Global Spectrum, which manages the Colisee, through 2008. Androscoggin Savings Bank would continue to hold the naming rights to the facility through 2016.

“This is not like selling a used police car,” Bennett said. “There are certain restraints on the property because there are many people in the community who want it available for many different things. They don’t want to see someone come in and tear the property down. At least, I don’t think most people want to see that.”

The city assumed ownership of the former Central Maine Civic Center in February 2004, agreeing to take on $4.2 million in debt and management of the center, including day-to-day operations and repairs.

Last month, councilors gave the Colisee $650,000 to cover two years worth of operational losses at the ice rink. That’s on top of $3.2 million worth of building and equipment upgrades since the city took over.

Improvements included a $2 million facade and building addition and interior work in 2005; a new ice resurfacer, a portable stage, an improved compressor, boiler repairs and bathroom upgrades in 2006. The city owes $5.7 million for the Colisee and improvements.

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