It looks like the Wexford County Civic Center is here to stay for a while because while it is still owned by the county, the facility is under new management.
Boon Sports Management, a non-profit organization has taken it over, but they are subleasing the auditorium side to Michael Blackmer. Heâ??s the owner of Raceway Hospitality which also owns The Pines in Cadillac.
â??I knew that if I could get in there, get into the arena, that I could make things happen,â?? said Blackmer.
With a little elbow grease and a few other helping hands, he and his team have been working for less than a month to bring that section of The Wex back to life.
Theyâ??ve put a fresh coat of paint on all of the walls, fixed the water pressure in the bathrooms, and scrubbed and waxed the floors in the arena. Blackmer says itâ??s all to prepare for the many events he has coming up.
â??We heard that one time they wanted to tear this place down,â?? said Blackmer. â??And it doesnâ??t need to be, thereâ??s a lot we can do here. Weâ??ve got a lot of plans, a lot of events. Iâ??ve already got a hunting and fishing show thatâ??s joining on, plus weâ??ve got other things that weâ??ve already got people calling and we havenâ??t really publicized that weâ??ve done this yet.â??
But thatâ??s not all, thereâ??s big things happening on the ice rink side too.
With the help of volunteers, donations, business discounts and some county money, Boon Sports Management is working hard to get their renovations done.
Theyâ??ve repainted the walls leading into the locker rooms, put in brighter and more energy efficient lights and replaced floors in the locker rooms. Theyâ??re also working on putting new boards down in the ice rink, while cleaning up the glass and the bleachers.
Mike Figliomeni, one of the members of Boon Sports Management, says itâ??s all to benefit the people who use it.
â??One of the things weâ??ve been focusing on is bringing the facility back to an appearance, and a condition that we can all be proud of,â?? said Figliomeni.
Most of the renovations for the ice rink side of The Wex are expected to be done in early September.
Whitney Webber, the new General Manager for the auditorium side of The Wex wants to focus on promoting the use of the facility for wedding receptions.
Wexford County will be paying Boon Sports Management $50 thousand each year for four years to manage and run The Wex. They also received a one time payment of $25-thousand when their contract began on May 1.
Representatives say theyâ??re trying to save as many of those dollars as they can for future use and have done a lot of the renovations just with community support.
The renovations that have been done on the auditorium side were funded by Blackmer.