The Future of Mellon Arena…
With the christening of the new Consol Arena, the hot button issue continues to be – what to do with the existing Mellon Arena known for years as the Civic Arena?
Through some political manipulation the Mellon Arena is owned by the Sports and Exhibition Authority and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But the issue remains – to demolish the arena or to preserve it and reuse it for other purposes. Those who want it preserved compare the arena to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis or the Space Needle in Washington State as architectural icons. Proponents on both sides of the issue are passionate about its future of the arena.
Public meetings have been held with the resultant verbal battling between the two sides. The Sports Authority and the Penguins have supported the position of tearing down the arena and developing the area for other purposes. It should be noted that the taxpayers would have to pony up $30 million to demolish the arena, re-grade the land, install utilities and revamp the street pattern and then settle on a developer to turn the area into productive commercial and retail projects.
In any case, proponents of preserving the arena, including State Senator Jim Ferlo, have been adamant about not rushing into a decision; a position also taken by Mary Conturo, Executive Director of SEA. Other interested factions are the residents of the Hill District who are affected by what happens…and those who represent the historical preservationists.
One thing is for certain – no matter how this issue is resolved, it’s going to end up costing a lot of money! Those who want to reuse the arena represent a number of different views – an enclosed mall with shopping and housing - a regional transit center – a produce market – an indoor amusement park – an urban greenhouse – and a hotel. And another intriguing proposal is to bring Carnegie Mellon University into the picture and converting the arena into a research center. Obviously, there is no shortage of ideas!
The Penguins plan is to demolish the arena and redevelop the multi-acre site, including the upper and lower parking lots, into a mix of residential and retail uses.
Needless to say, there are strong arguments on both sides. The State Bureau for Historic Preservation has urged the Sports and Exhibition Authority to delay and demolition until both sides have had their say.
We agree. We want what’s best for the city and the taxpayers who usually end up carrying the load. There is no timetable on determining the future of Mellon Arena. One thing is for certain – we don’t want a lot of self-serving politicians with their sticky fingers pulling the strings on this vital issue.
Robert W. Dickey
President KQV Newsradio
August 27, 28, 29, 30, 2010
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