Gone Once: Mike Marienwald of North American Auctioneers will be selling the old London ice House for Mark and Dale Hunter by auction on Oct. 7, unless a buyer surfaces before then. Ownership of the arena reverted back to the Hunters when the operators who had turned it into an indoor dirt bike facility defaulted on the mortgage.
By Ryan Pyette
Free Press Sports Reporter
With the top bid, you can own a large piece of London hockey history.
The former London Ice House, home of major junior hockey for almost 40 years here, will be sold to the highest bidder in a multi-parcel auction held in the building (4380 Wellington Rd. S.) on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m.
If there is enough public interest that day , the proceedings could take place on the former arena floor.
Knights owner Mark and Dale Hunter, who sold the Ice House last year and moved their Ontario Hockey League team to the downtown John Labatt Centre, had the old building fall back in their laps when the new arena owners defaulted on their May payment.
"We want to get rid of it, we don't want this to drag on, someone get a helluva deal," Mark Hunter said, "We're happy this is coming to a head on Oct. 7. This is extra work and we need to concentrate on hockey."
Last October, the Hunters sold the building to dirt bike enthusiasts Guy Russel of Toronto and Bobby Biro of Montreal, who filled the place with 3,000 tonnes of dirt, renamed it the London Motoplex and created a facility dedicated to arena-cross racing.
But in April, Russel and Bir's company - Transparent Holdings Ltd. - was unable to meet its financial creditors and listed its lone asset (the building) for sale at $1.65 million.
After Transparent missed its May payment, the Hunters, who hold the mortgage on the building, returned to the scene. They have hired auctioneer Mike Marienwald, owner of North American Auctioneers, to conduct the event.
It's not often you auction an arena - we have a marketing package aimed at big box stores, transportation companies and courier services," Marienwald said.
"But really, anyone who wants it can get it. It's an auction, it's a public event. You can't get it for 50 cents - the Hunters don't have to list a reserve bid but they have a price in mind - but whoever gets it is going to get a very good property at a very good price, you never know, It's a pretty good opportunity,"
The auction could follow a three-step process.
The four-hectare (10-acre) parking lot behind the arena, which the Hunters never sold, followed by the 40-year old building and its two-acre lot.
Then, the lot and building will be offered together.
"That's a 10-acre lot right by the highway, the building is in pretty good shape, too, and it's attached to a mall," Marienwald said.
The roof of the former Ice House has been repaired and the Motoplex folks installed a new heating system. The dirt had been removed to accommodate a circus and never returned to the arna floor.
For those bidders with dreams of restoring a hockey rink, the ice-making equipment remains in the building.
It was a condition off the original sale that Russel and Biro could not remove it until they had paid in full for the arena.
However, all of the ammonia refrigerant has been removed.
A banner announcing t he upcoming auction will hang from the former Ice House starring tomorrow.