The members of the Allegheny County Sports and Exhibition Authority Board heard from roughly equal numbers of speakers for and against the razing of the civic arena to make way for new development at Monday’s public input session. The Penguins are pushing to have the arena torn down to make way for new development while those looking to save the arena want to take some time to look at the different re-use possibilities. They argue that there is no need to raze the building immediately saying instead it can be used sparingly to finance its upkeep while its future is being debated. The Penguins and their supporters say having the building in the way will limit interest in the site and slow the reconnection of the Hill District to the Golden Triangle. Russell Guest is an architect in the city and he says he has been talking to people about re-using the arena. “Everyone always turns to you and says ‘what do you want to do with it,’ and I always tell them ‘what can’t you do with it,’ “says Guest, “It’s a 415-foot clear span, if you can’t figure out how to use that to serve the city in a new way, you’re not very smart.” Allegheny County resident Mike Mc Donnell says at first he wanted to save the arena but after talking to Hill residents who felt otherwise, he pondered his position. “I wanted it to stay because I liked it. I, I, I. I took the position because I was being selfish, I wanted to stay because I liked it, and then it occurred to me. This was no basis for a position this important.” Several speakers told the board they have yet to fully make up their minds on saving or not saving the civic arena but they urged the board to take all steps necessary to make sure every option is explored before bringing in the wrecking ball. There is no time line for a final decision on the fate of the arena.
Listen to Save the Igloo Founder Rob Pfaffmann's 3:30 comments to the board here.
Listen to Penguins President David Morehouse's 2:30 comments to the board here.