Future of Venice Circus Arena in doubt - WFLA News Channel 8

Future of Venice Circus Arena in doubt

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© John Rogers / WFLA © John Rogers / WFLA
© John Rogers / WFLA © John Rogers / WFLA
© Photo Credit: Venice Circus Arts Foundation © Photo Credit: Venice Circus Arts Foundation
© John Rogers / WFLA © John Rogers / WFLA

Decades ago, the Venice Circus arena housed some of the best circus performers in the world.

Now it's an abandoned eyesore, and city officials set a deadline to decide what to do with it.

Many feel this important landmark needs to be saved.

Tito Gaona is looking ahead to the next generation.

He runs a trapeze academy, where he teaches people to perform his beloved craft because no matter where the future takes you, you can't forget where you came from.

Gaona started performing at the Venice Circus Arena in 1965 as a member of ‘The Flying Gaonas.'

The family group was world-renown, and they trained at the Venice Circus Arena.

"I was the youngest trapeze artist to do a triple summersault at the time," he said.

Built in 1963, the arena was the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus until 1992.

Since then, it's become a shell of its former self- a shell that's potentially hazardous.

The city has deemed it unsafe, and has set a deadline of April 13th- by that day, officials need to decide whether to restore it, rebuild it or tear it down.

One of the options the city is considering would be a partial demolition- where they would tear down everything but the steel structure.

City officials say the steel structure is still intact and strong.

Venice Community Development Director Chad Minor said, "A lot of people think its worth saving because there is a lot of history to it."

The Venice Circus Arts Foundation conducted a study and learned a restored arena would be a huge economic boost to the city.

The foundation is currently raising money and the group estimates it would cost $12 million to turn the arena into a state-of-the-art facility.

Minor said, "We are fully engaged to assist and work with them on a solution."

This old building is a part of Venice history.

Gaona said, "It's a landmark. Venice is a landmark of circus."

A landmark that many think should be preserved for the next generation.

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