The group "Reuse the Igloo" has asked the city-county Sports and Exhibition Authority to put off for one year a decision to demolish the Mellon Arena. The SEA owns the arena but the Pittsburgh Penguins have the development rights to the 28 acres on which the arena sits. The Penguins, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato want to raze the arena to make way for 1,200 units of housing, a 150-room hotel, entertainment and retail, office space, 2,100 parking spaces and a little more than an acre of park space.
Architect Rob Pfaffmann, the leader of Reuse the Igloo, asked for the one year delay and said his group would develop a plan to help the SEA with maintenance costs for the arena which could reach $100,000 a month. Pfaffmann says his group would use the time to devise an economically sustainable plan to re-purpose the arena.
State Senator Wayne Fontana, who chairs the SEA Board, says there is no timeline for a decision..."Do we want to gather information as quickly as possible to make a decision...of course. But if that means it takes a year to do it....it takes a year to do it. But we have to have the understanding that it could cost (the public) up to six figures a month to keep the arena mothballed. That's a big consideration. But if it's worth it, if that's the right decision, that's what we will do."
Fontana says it will come down to the economic impact of the plans that come forward and if the cost of delaying a final decision is worth it.