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Preservationists Launch Last-Ditch Effort To Save Civic Arena

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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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.

RELATED LINKS:
Preservation Pittsburgh
Sports and Exhibition Authority
More News on Civic Arena

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