Wachovia Arena For Sale?

An unnamed party rumored to be the group that owns the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers arena football team has approached the Wachovia Arena about a possible purchase of the 10,500-capacity venue.

Bill Jones of the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority, which oversees the operation of the facility, said he was informed of a possible offer to purchase the arena and is “open to discussion of any proposals,” the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre reported.

A “well-placed county insider” named the interested company as Big Win Ventures, which owns the Pioneers arenafootball2 team, the paper said. Jones said he could not identify the prospective buyer because he hadn’t received written confirmation.

Pioneers general manager and president Dave Berryman, who holds a minority stake in Big Win, told the paper, “Big Win is always looking for opportunities in the localized marketplace. As far as the specifics about Wachovia Arena, I couldn’t say at this time.”

Convention center authority chairman Kevin Blaum said he had not heard of offers, but would be very skeptical of any that came in, saying the venue “should never be in private hands because we operate it in the best interest of the people of Northeastern PA.”

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Then it can be resold or dismantled for scrap,” Blaum said.

Minority commissioner Stephen Urban said he hopes the authority will consider offers with an open mind, and acknowledged that many arenas are privately owned.

“Blaum is acting like they’re going to put the arena on a space ship and fly it away. It’s a fixed asset that’s not going anywhere,” he said.

The arena, which is managed by SMG, collects 80 percent of the revenue received from a county hotel tax, which has led to $10.5 million since May 1996, the paper said. Blaum told the paper the hotel tax revenue stream must stay intact because it is earmarked to pay off the arena construction bond.

The venue has recently held concerts by Tool, “American Idols Live,” and The Cheetah Girls.