NLA-C busy preparing for arena’s reopening

ALPENA -Even though Ameresco is still in the process of making energy efficiency improvements to Northern Lights Arena and there is no ice, Northern Lights Arena-Community has been busy behind the scenes. The new management group has been getting things in order by interviewing potential arena managers, scheduling events and lining up sponsors.

NLA-C President Bill Peterson said committees have been established, each focusing on a different aspect of the operations of the arena. He said the delay caused by Ameresco’s work has helped the group get things in place. Peterson said it also will help keep the budget in the black from the start.

“It is really going to help us,” Peterson said. “The budget we had set up figured in a loss of $25,000 and a loss of $15,000 to $18,000 for August. Now we won’t have to worry about that. In a way the delay was a God send, because it provided us a chance to get all of our ducks in a row.”

Besides hiring a manager the NLA-C also is hiring a maintenance supervisor. He said there was going to be a meeting on Wednesday night in which the personnel committee was going to recommend a new manager and supervisor. Peterson said an announcement on who that person is should be made soon.

He said while the search for a manager was taking place the group was busy booking events for the arena. Thus far there are seven events scheduled through the end of October. the highlights of the events are AWWL Wrestling, women’s roller derby an archery extravaganza and a scrimmage featuring the Lake Superior State University hockey team. Peterson said the group realizes in order to succeed there needs to be frequent non-ice events.

“We want to make the arena the premier event center of the community. Not only the Northern Lights, but also the APlex. I don’t think you can find a better dual facility in all of Michigan,” Peterson said. “We want to bring people in from out of town and we knew going in we were going to have to have things in place for the new manager.We are sort of reinventing the wheel in this instance. We are starting from scratch and the arena is a multi-purpose facility and we are going to use it that way.”

Peterson said in his communications with county Maintenance Supervisor Wes Wilder it has been stated Ameresco seems to be progressing at a good clip on getting the improvements at the arena complete. He said once it is done there will be some training that will need to take place to get the staff familiar with the new equipment and then the ice will begin to be made.

He said he hopes to have ice ready to go before Sept. 1.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at