On the heels of the Steelers‘ Super Bowl defeat, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has rapidly shifted gears, making yesterday’s lead the future of the Mellon Arena, a facility that has not been used since June 2010.
The arena, initially called the Civic Arena until a naming rights deal was struck with a financial services firm, was the production location of that all-time film classic, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh. The Penguins moved into the new Consol Arena in August 2010, after receiving developmental rights to the old arena property in a 2007 deal with state, city, and county officials.
Though the Sports and Exhibition Authority voted unanimously on September 16, 2010 to have the arena demolished, a group of preservationists has remained a fly in the ointment, and at least one board member said the authority’s decision does not have to be final if someone proposes a better idea. That has given opponents of demolition some hope, but the meetings underway now are likely to lead to eventual demolition, unless there is a dramatic public outcry. The historic preservationists look at the lack of a highly specific plan to move forward as an opportunity to gain landmark status for the arena, which was built with a retractable roof before any other arena or stadium tried the idea.
According to the Post-Gazette, the planning process could take nine months or more, suggesting that the Penguins don’t have a too much of a game plan as to what to do here. A spokesperson for Pittsburgh’s mayor said that these “pre-application” meetings were established to “cut through red tape” and ensure that developers and the various agencies involved are on the same page. Historic preservationists were not mentioned in that part of the story, though. That may mean a wrecking ball will soon follow, but stay tuned.