No Takers for Glens Falls Civic Center

Since its opening in 1979, the Glens Falls Civic Center has never turned in a profit, as said by the city’s mayor John Diamond at a Common Council meeting in July.

The Glens Falls Civic Center as represented on the city's property map. (Photo Credit: City of Glens Falls)
The Glens Falls Civic Center as represented on the city’s property map. (Photo Credit: City of Glens Falls)

Not exactly a shining endorsement to prospective buyers of the 35-year old sports and entertainment arena.

The city had placed the property up for auction yesterday, and according to several news sources, no buyers showed.

“We have discussed openly for several years about options on a regional basis,” said Diamond on July 22. “We, in City government, are about to engage in the budget process for next year. Since 1979 the building has never made any positive revenue. I look at it as more of a destination/quality of life initiative, but the economy of scale has changed since 1979. In order for us to be competitive within ideas of a tax cap, we have to make sacrifices. In order to continue to provide services that City residents are accustomed to or improving on, something has to change. I have come to the conclusion that the only option is to sell the Civic Center and put it into private sector, with the idea that whoever buys it will continue on as a recreational arena.”

The city had placed a minimum bid of $1.5 million. Attached to the prospective sale were two contracts; a three-year lease with the Flames minor league hockey team and a management contract with Global Spectrum. According to Wikipedia, the Civic Center was built with $3 million. When factoring in the rate of inflation, it cost $9.75 million in today’s money, representing a near 85 percent loss that the city was willing to lose on the property.

Former ESPN radio personality and present real estate agent, Brian Sinkoff, said the expected asking price just doesn’t meet present demand.

According to the Albany Business Review, the minimum asking price at yesterday’s failed auction is equal to an offer the city had received from a local developer just a few years ago.  That same developer said, after now doing his due diligence, opted not to purchase.

For ten years, the arena held a virtual monopoly in attracting larger musical acts for the Capital Region – Aerosmith, Metallica, Scorpions, Def Leppard, Rush, Motley Crew, Boston and 38 Special all headlined acts at the approximately 4,700-seat indoor venue.

In 1989, The Who rehearsed there over a two-week period. And, The Grateful Dead played there three times during that decade.

More recently, Phish performed The Beatles White Album in its entirety on Halloween in 1994.

The seating capacity is no longer ideal for today’s demands, and the monopoly it once held was revoked when Albany opened a 15,000-plus seat arena of its own in 1990, now known as the Times Union Center.

Prospective buyers were required to present 10 percent of the minimum asking price, or $150,000, to attend yesterday’s auction.