AMA Arena appears to be on borrowed time



By Ron Giofu


The former AMA Arena may not be around much longer.

The Victoria St. single pad facility, built in 1970, will be the subject of an RFP to get an idea of what the demolition costs will be. CAO John Miceli said administration wants town council to make an informed decision and the RFP results will give them a sense of what it will cost.

Funds have been set aside in the 2016 budget, he said.

“From our perspective, we haven’t identified a use and there is an engineering review that is going to cost at least $40,000,” said Miceli.

Arenas have to go through engineering reviews every five years, he explained. Performing such a study then tearing the arena down would be a waste of money, he added.

There is no water or hydro at the AMA Arena with insurance costs on the building being “minimal,” said the CAO. There is a concern of letting the building further deteriorate and become a liability, he said.

“I just don’t want to be in a litigious situation if someone gets injured or, heaven forbid, if kids get inside,” he said. “We have to have a game plan.”

Staff that had been working at the former arena has been relocated with stored items within being moved.

Staff that had been working at the former arena has been relocated with stored items within being moved.

While there is a possibility someone in the public can come forward and present another use for the building, Miceli said he wants council to have the information in the new year so they can make an informed decision. He anticipates having a report before town council in late January or early February.

The AMA Arena stopped being used as a recreation venue in 2011 after the Libro Centre opened. It was used as the home of the town’s parks department but staff were cleared out of there in mid-2015.

A “few things of salvage value” remain inside the old arena, Miceli added.

Demolition of the former arena does not appear tied to the possibility of putting a new public high school at the Centennial Park site. Miceli acknowledged the town has identified Centennial Park and the Libro Centre as possible new locations for a new, combined General Amherst and Western secondary school.

“Our plan to demolish the arena was way before (talk of) the new school,” said Miceli. “It is a possibility the school board might want Centennial Park.”

Miceli added he has not been formally contacted by the Greater Essex County District School Board regarding the board acquiring Centennial Park or any other site.

“There is nothing official between the school board and the town,” said Miceli.