Mayor Dave Bronson announced details of his decision to move the Sullivan Arena back to the use for which taxpayers paid: A venue for events such as sporting competition and .
He said the Municipality of Anchorage had signed an agreement with O’Malley Ice and Sports, which is already running the Ben Boeke and Dempsey Arenas. As the Boeke and Dempsey returned to use as ice arenas, the revenue to the city has returned to the 2017 and 2018 levels, Bronson said.
Under the agreement, O’Malley Ice and Sports is essentially renting the Sullivan to develop entertainment, trade shows, and other uses. John Stenehjem, who is the general manager of O’Malley Ice and Sports, will oversee the redevelopment of the arena.
The damage to the restrooms and the plumbing system that occurred while the building was occupied by the hardcore vagrant population under the Berkowitz Administration has been fixed and the building should be available by Nov. 1.
“This building is in remarkably good shape,” said Bronson, adding that the parking lot will be repainted with stripes soon and there is some glass that still needs to be repaired. The sound system is from the 1980s, he said, and at some point will need to be replaced.
The cold-weather plan for the homeless will be announced next week but will not include the Sullivan.
When asked by reporters what he will do to address the increasing number of street deaths in Anchorage, the mayor said that the recent deaths are not caused by exposure and that most of the deaths occurred after the Sullivan Arena was closed as a shelter in May.
A lot of the street deaths “are drug-related and alcohol abuse, fentanyl, we suspect, the indicators, it looks like fentanyl,” Bronson said. “”Winter is going to add to that unless, quite frankly, the assembly comes up with a shelter.”
Mayor Bronson had earlier announced his plan to give people plane tickets so they can either move back with their families or head to a warm climate. Assembly Chairman Chris Constant called that a bad idea, since he believes that Anchorage is Dena’ina-owned property, and Natives should not be invited to leave.
Bronson said, “We’ve spent $161 million in homelessness in this city. But we do not have a shelter. We need a shelter,” People are “better off living on the street in a wam climate than they are dying on the streets of Anchorage because of exposure.”
The Anchorage Assembly has blocked the mayor from being able to address the homeless situation. The Assembly blocked his development of a purpose-built structure that would serve the homeless as a navigation center. The Assembly instead has used homelessness as a political battering ram against a mayor that they openly despise, knowing that, with the help of the mainstream media in Anchorage, a crisis in homelessness over the winter could tilt the vote against the mayor in the March-April 2024 election.