WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The Luzerne County Convention Center Authority approved spending up to $250,000 to upgrade the WiFi service at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
The authority would apply for grants to reduce its cost, said Donna Cupinski, chairwoman of the capital improvement and strategic planning committee. She asked for the financial commitment during the authority’s monthly meeting Wednesday at the arena.
Shows have passed on the arena because the WiFi can’t handle their demands and the wireless service is unable to support the load of thousands of audience members trying to post to Facebook and other social media, Cupinski explained. “There’s just too many people jumping on,” she said.
“We have a possibility to get a grant to upgrade our WiFi in the building,” Cupinski said. The authority will work with the NEPA Alliance in Pittston Township to apply for funding ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission, she explained.
The authority has worked previously with the NEPA Alliance, a regional community and economic development agency, Cupinski said. In this case, the authority has to submit a proposal by Friday and the NEPA Alliance will rank it with other projects and forward the information to Harrisburg for a decision, she said.
Cupinski said her contact at the NEPA Alliance thought the authority’s project has the best chance of getting an ARC grant. If it’s successful, the authority would be required to match the award, Cupinski said.
“What we want to do is have this board commit a figure of up to $250,000 just in case we can’t fund the whole thing,” Cupinski said.
Mike Wilczynski, the arena’s director of operations, pointed out the authority will be responsible for annual fees dealing with support and security updates for the service. The authority has the option of paying upfront for a designated block of time, say three to five years, as opposed to recurring yearly fees, he said.
As it did for the tiles that were installed in the arena to improve the acoustics, the authority will pursue additional money through the Local Share Account program that is funded with gambling revenues from the nearby Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Plains Township, Cupinski said.
The authority recently received a $100,000 check through the LSA program to pay for the acoustical tiles, but the award has a hidden cost. Cupinski said “anything over $100,000 has to be audited.” She said the firm of Snyder & Clemente in Kingston will do the audit for $3,500. The authority approved hiring Snyder & Clemente in a no-bid professional service contract.
In other business:
• Authority chairman Ed Harry said Luzerne County Council appointed Joseph Cotter, an attorney and certified public accountant in Wilkes-Barre, to replace authority member David Capin.
Capin resigned last month.
In March, it was noted that Capin had missed four consecutive meetings.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.