Even in a large metropolitan area, the plan would have been considered a long shot: the construction of a $220 million dollar complex including a 10,000 seat hockey arena, additional ice rinks, restaurants, a hotel, and shopping. And yet in 1999, work began on just such a project in the Michigan city of Port Huron, population: 32,000.
The idea was that the arena would be home to Port Huron's minor league hockey team, the Border Cats. The teams owner - Mostafa Afr – had a good track record of taking financially distressed arena properties and turning them around, and hoped the project would draw residents and people from the surrounding area.
Unfortunately, construction was halted only a year after it began when financing for the project dried up. While considerable structural work had been completed on the building housing the additional ice rinks, the arena itself was just a foundation pit with a few concrete uprights, which soon filled with water.
By 2002 the building had been heavily damaged by vandals, and though a new developer for the property would appear every few years, their plans – finish the arena, build a casino, turn it into a convention center – never materialized.
Today the project site has been exposed to the elements for over 10 years. It is far past the salvageable stage, and most discussion about the property focuses on tearing down rather than building up.
In the end though, one city's loss was another city's gain. A construction firm used the plans and building materials created but never used for the Port Huron arena to build the Windsor Family Credit Union Center starting in 2006. The completed project bears a strong resemblance to the skeletal remains rotting outside of Port Huron.