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Old 09-18-2010, 11:33 AM   #1
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Default End of an Era: Civic Arena to be Demolished

End Of An Era: Unanimous Vote To Demolish Civic Arena
Pittsburgh Preservation Group Fights To Save Former Mellon Arena
ThePittsburghChannel.Com
updated 9/17/2010 1:15:47 PM ET

PITTSBURGH --

The first step toward what some might call the end of an era was taken Thursday, as

Pittsburgh's Sports & Exhibition Authority

voted unanimously to demolish Civic Arena.

"I certainly hope it's the conclusion, so that we can move forward with our development process," Pittsburgh Penguins senior vice president Travis Williams said.

But opponents are refusing to accept the plan, and some who attended Thursday's public meeting called out, "shame, shame," when the vote was announced.

"This fight is definitely not over," said Rob Pfaffmann, of the

Preservation Pittsburgh

group. "And in preservation, all you have to do is research how preservation battles are won. It happens at the last minute. It happens with a judge issuing a restraining order, and that won't happen until the day before the demolition occurs."

The former Mellon Arena was the home of Penguins hockey games and countless concerts throughout the years before the Pens moved across Centre Avenue to the new Consol Energy Center.

Preservation Pittsburgh and a group called

Reuse The Igloo

hoped to stave off demolition and try to find another use for the old arena, but SEA Chairman Wayne Fontana said waiting too long is not advisable.

"Mothballing the arena would cost upwards of half a million dollars to the public -- probably a lot more than that," Fontana said.

"The challenges due to the building's size and placement, along with the building's age and design, overwhelmingly inhibit an effective development plan" without demolition, said Chris Cieslak, of Oxford Chester Consultants.

Channel 4 Action News' Bob Mayo reported that the contract to demolish could be set for the first quarter of 2011.

The SEA's plan calls for the Igloo to come down, making way for much of the area's former street grid to be restored and a new neighborhood built, connecting downtown with the Lower Hill District.

"I know that it (the arena) is one of the things that makes this city truly great, and I urge you to give every consideration to reuse," demolition opponent Rick Sebak told the SEA.

"No one is coming forward that has development issues here and saying, 'Here's a plan that will make it better to go the other way that won't cost the public any more money.' My concern is that -- what's best for the public," said Fontana.

"I thought at least one person on that board might actually see an opportunity to compromise and develop a process that allows -- even people who disagree -- an opportunity to work together, and that clearly wasn't the case here," said Pfaffmann.

Removal of asbestos and an auction of the 50-year-old arena's contents could happen in the next few months, Mayo reported.

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