Preservationists Launch Last-Ditch Effort To Save Civic Arena

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A preservation group asked a federal appeals court this morning for a quick hearing on whether the Civic Arena should be torn down.

The Preservation Pittsburgh group filed an emergency motion Wednesday night just before the expiration of a court-ordered delay of the demolition.

Now, unless the appeals court intervenes, the Sports and Exhibition Authority is ready to start demolition of the arena as early as 6 a.m. Monday.

That’s the latest from a court filing – papers that the SEA filed this morning – and once preparation is finished, the gradual dismantling of the arena structure would begin with the dome.

In its heyday, it took just two and a half minutes to open – as it did for a Chicago concert in the ‘80s. But by the ‘90s, the dome didn’t open anymore.

The SEA has said it costs $50,000 a month to maintain the building as it is now.

Preservationists say though that the arena could be reborn in another form with other uses.

The memories of what use to be from the Olivia Newton-John concert under the stars with the roof open to Michael Jackson’s concert and the long lines to get tickets were on the minds of many today during another chapter in the arena’s long history.

“When I was younger that place was always the Igloo,” said Mark Lunsford, of the North Side. “My dad took me there to see the games and that’s what it is to me. Pittsburgh is a city of tradition, you know, you leave things like that up.”

“I think it’s a horrible mistake,” added Mark Schumacher, of Baldwin. “That’s like an institution that should be there, turn it into a mini-mall or a museum or something.”

But others say the fight has gone on long enough.

“I think it would be time to go, I mean we tore down Three Rivers Stadium and there was a lot of history there, so I think it would be better for the stadium to be torn down before it falls on top of us,” Antonio Corona, of Kennedy Township, said.

Ironically, it was this week in September of 1961 that the arena had its grand opening with an Ice Capades show.

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  • Debbie Sims

    I believe the Civic Arena should be renovated and used by the public. Public monies paid for it. I don’t understand why the Sports Authority or Mario and the Pens should have any say in what should be done with that property. It was paid for by the public and it should be used by the public! The public is being pushed out of downtown Pittsburgh, I thought the idea was to draw more people into Downtown Pittsburgh. I can see it now, a giant parking lot for Mario. Or maybe sell it to Buncher for parking? Our tax dollars are not used for the public, but there’s not much that can be done. They will do what they want. Well at least I got my say and one click of a button and they can make me go away.

    • Steve

      Actually it was also purchased with private money. But that’s not the point. There is no viable solution proposed that would make money. It’s a money loss and needs to go.

  • Shawn

    I think the building would be great for an indoor public space, especially in the winter. Sure there is much history there, but I think it would serve Pittsburgh better to keep it than to replace it , with what? Lets have a referendum on this publicly paid for building.

  • Scott

    TEAR IT DOWN, geez. WHY would we leave that antiquated structure stand, as is? For a mini-mall? A museum? Seriously? What is wrong with people? We need our economy to THRIVE. An old structure taking up prime real estate will not help that what-so-ever. Not ONE single use for that existing structure can be as economically beneficial as tearing it down and redeveloping the land. These groups that want to save it have not given anything in black & white saying how saving the arena and reusing it will work economically. No one, even the people wanting to save it can think of an actual, legitimate use for the structure. We have the new Consol. “This is our new state of the art arena, and oh, don’t mind that all darkened dungeon, that’s our old arena that we just couldn’t part with, so we leave it go as an eyesore!” COME ON!

  • Dan

    KDKA, it’s coincidentally that the Ice Capades was there, not irony. Learn words if you’re going to be a reporter.

  • Critter

    All stupid democrats

  • John

    TEAR it down for heavens sake! Like all old things it needs to go. Just like 3 rivers, Pitt Staduim and Forbes Field they all had to go cause of NEWER and BETTER things.
    Just drop it so we can get a parking lot in there so we have more places to park in the city.

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