By Andy Sheehan

NORTH SHORE (KDKA) — With all of the excitement over at PNC Park these days, it’s hard to remember the battle royal over whether or not to build it.

But one person never had any doubts.

“Isn’t that what cities are supposed be? It’s a celebration of who we are,” former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy said.

Murphy fought city council, the state legislature — even his own constituents — who argued against using public money to build sports stadiums.

“It was not the most popular decision at the time, but it was I think the right decision for Pittsburgh and certainly 10 years later it really I think demonstrates that,” he said.

Murphy said Three Rivers Stadium had to go and he moved heaven and earth to build Heinz Field and PNC Park to replace it.

Unlike Three Rivers, the new stadiums have spurred development on the North Shore, turning it into an everyday destination with rock shows, restaurants and bars.

“Look at the North Shore,” Murphy said. “Look at the life here.”

In using public money, Murphy’s actions run counter to today’s public sentiment which calls for less and less government. Murphy disagreed then and disagrees now.

“The idea that government just needs to get out of the way, I can tell you that’s a recipe for failure in most cities,” he said. “The government can’t get out of the way.”

And in this case at least, he’s won over some former critics.

“I think that’s always the way,” said Chester Dodson of Valencia. “You think one thing at one time and then you change your mind when it works out.”

Things have certainly worked out for the Pirates and few would argue that things haven’t worked out for the city — and for Tom Murphy’s legacy.

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