Commissioners weigh in on future of Bay Center following ice mishap
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —
Ice Flyer games at the Pensacola Bay Center have been postponed this weekend due to unsafe conditions on the ice.
It is suspected that a leak in the freezing coils under the rink is keeping the ice from freezing in one section, but will not be confirmed until Thursday. Greg Harris, the Ice Flyer's owner, is not too happy.
"Everything in here has been outdated and I think the frustrating part, from my standpoint, is that the capital hasn't been put back in this building," Harris said.
All ice activities have been cancelled through the weekend. Harris said temporary fixes to the Bay Center are not enough anymore.
"To the point where there's too many Band-Aids going on, and the Band-Aids are going to burst at some point," Harris said.
Some Escambia County commissioners agree.
"I think it really spells out that we should be looking at what is the eventual alternative," Commissioner Grover Robinson said. "The Band-Aids aren't going to hold forever. At some point, the community needs to make that decision to what happens next."
The county has put in a bid to get a chunk of the $1.5 billion coming to Northwest Florida from the oil spill. One plan would replace the Bay Center and build a brand new multi-use facility.
Chairman Jeff Bergosh told Channel 3 News the application has made it through the first hurdle, so he is hopeful. If that does not happen, it is back to the drawing board. Options are limited because money is tight. The county used $3.2 million from reserves just to balance this year's budget. A spokesperson for the county said the long-term goal is to maintain a contingency reserve in the General Fund of 10 percent of revenues. The spokesperson said the contingency reserve currently has $19.9 million, which is only 9.2 percent.
Robinson said he is not in favor of asking the taxpayers to help out, but something needs to be done.
"I do not think the Bay Center is the space that we want to get into the future," Robinson said.
Harris said this week it is the ice, he is worried about what could be next.
"We're trying to put on a professional product on the ice and a professional product off the ice, but having things like this it sets us back too far," Harris said.
SMG, the company that manages the Bay Center, said they hope to have the issue fixed up by the weekend. The Globetrotters are here on Monday and then Pensacon moves in Thursday. The general manager does not expect either to be affected.
The Ice Flyers released the following statement:
Due to unforeseen and unsafe ice conditions at the Pensacola Bay Center, the Pensacola Ice Flyers games scheduled for this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, have been postponed. Tickets can be refunded at point of purchase, exchanged at either Pensacola Bay Center Box Office or Ice Flyers office, or used for the rescheduled games. These dates are to be determined.
"This is an unfortunate set of circumstances, and we apologize for any inconvenience," Ice Flyers owner Greg Harris. "We will be receiving regular updates from SMG, the Bay Center's management company, as they work to resolve the issues with the ice as soon as possible so that it does not affect any more games beyond this weekend. We ask that fans stay tuned for updates in regards to the rescheduled games through our mobile app, social media, and website."