Uncertain Fate For Florida Arena

The future is uncertain at best for a $70 million hockey arena project in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., that was abandoned following financial problems.

The privately funded arena was expected to open in September 2005 and act as home ice for a minor league hockey team. Construction halted in February 2005 when investors stopped paying general contractor Walbridge-Aldinger, according to the Bradenton Herald. Now contractors, banks and developers are in court trying to recover unpaid bills.

A judge in Manatee County has split the messy cases into two parts – one involving foreclosure filings by Schroeder-Manatee Ranch (SMR), which owns the mortgage along with contractor Walbridge-Aldinger, and the other addressing complaints of fraud and broken promises by project developer DVA Sports, according to the Herald Tribune.

DVA officials have assured that the project would be revived, according to the Bradenton Herald, but none of those claims have proven successful.

Most recently Susan Jamieson, a Canadian businesswoman and environmental activist, has been mentioned as a possible savior for the project. She is reportedly in talks with SMR officials.

“She is trying to do her due diligence while trying to pull a deal together,” SMR senior VP Dan Perka told the Herald. “We’re waiting to see what happens, just like everyone else.”

Jamieson’s Web site, susanjamieson.com, says her goal is “to find and introduce the solutions needed to clean up our environment – beginning with arenas that are built with safe, nontoxic materials.”

But some SMR officials, including president and CEO Rex Jensen, were skeptical.

“To me it’s a bunch of pablum,” Jensen told the Herald. “I don’t have any information from them that would justify our doing business with them.”

Jamieson’s Web site shows a letter from PCL Construction agreeing to work with Jamieson on her “Green Arenas” project.

DVA Sports President Sal Diaz-Verson, who is being sued by DVA development partner Chuck Madden, told the Herald he was scheduled to meet with Jamieson soon.