Pittsburgh Penguins' Civic Arena: What to Do with the Team's Former Home?

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Pittsburgh Penguins' Civic Arena: What to Do with the Team's Former Home?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Civic Arena sits directly across from the Consol Energy Center

On August 18, 2010, the Consol Energy Center opened its doors with a concert by Sir Paul McCartney. A little over a month later, on September 22, 2010, the Penguins held their first preseason game in the new digs. The official hockey opening took place on October 7, 2010. 222 days later, the future of the Penguins prior residence has still not been determined.

For months, groups have tried to establish a historic designation to the Civic Arena (also Mellon Arena for a time) in order to block its proposed demolition. The Civic Arena opened in 1961, and until the opening of the Consol Energy Center, it was the oldest building that an NHL team called home. While unconfirmed, it was also thought to be one of the last major American venues left that The Beatles performed at.

In March 2011, the Historic Review Commission voted against a historic designation for the building lovingly referred to as "The Igloo".

Demolition of the Arena would lead the way for redevelopment of nearly 28 acres of land. Proposals call for the addition of bar/restaurants, condos, parking, and a multitude of other business possibilities similar to the development that has been completed between PNC Park and Heinz Field in the North Side area of town.

Another key feature of the re-development would be a reconnection of the HIll District to the Downtown area. A major criticism of the Civic Arena was that it destroyed part of the community, segmented it (possibly even segregating it), and forced many residents to be displaced. At the time, the Hill District was thought of as one of the premier African-American communities in the nation.

What should be done with the Civic Arena

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While "progress" and millions of dollars at stake for the local economy would appear to speak the loudest, the end result is still far from certain.

On May 13, 2011 PASenate.com reported that State Senator Jim Ferlo (D - Pittsburgh) will work to impose a program to "mitigate the impact of the Civic Arena's demolition". This act would require all developers to fund a "minimum $1 million grant program to fund other historic preservation projects in the HIll District".

The fund could be used for such projects as the Granada Theater or the August Wilson Homestead. Born in Pittsburgh, Wilson is a beloved and celebrated American playwright. He died in October 2, 2005. On May 30, 2007, his childhood home was declared a historic landmark.

The Pittsburgh Penguins own the development rights to the Civic Arena and surrounding land. Presumably, they would like to bring the destruction and re-development process as quickly as possible. No timetable has been set as of now, however.

As for the Arena's final fate, rumors have circulated for a while that producers of the film "The Dark Knight Rises" have a potential solution. While KDKA has refuted the claim, it still persists that film would like to destroy the building when it shoots here in the summer.

The film itself will be directed by Christopher Nolan - his last in the Batman series - and star Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway among others.

If the rumor was true, they supposedly would also pick up the tab for the clean-up, which obviously would be a substantial benefit for all parties involved.

If the rumor is not true, My suggestion is to return The Igloo to its Hollywood roots. When it comes time to push the button, it should be none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme who presses it.

He saved the Arena in the film "Sudden Death", so it seems only right that he be the one to destroy it.

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