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Group Asks 1-Year Delay in Mellon Arena Demolition

Thursday, July 15, 2010
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A group seeking to save Mellon Arena today urged its owner to delay a proposed demolition for one year.

Rob Pfaffmann, a Downtown architect who leads Reuse the Igloo, asked the city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority board to give the group a year to develop an economically viable plan to save the Igloo. The SEA owns the building.

“We do not want to see a white elephant,” he said.

Mr. Pfaffmann said the group also would develop a plan to help the SEA cover the operating costs of the building while a more thorough planning process is undertaken and alternatives are studied.

“We should not rush to judgment on this if we have an economic circumstance that doesn’t demand it,” he said.

Mr. Pfaffmann was among about 10 people to speak at the SEA meeting today in favor of saving the building.

“There’s no do over. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and it will never be back again,” said Nancy Motz Cosnotti. “If the Civic Arena is gone, then part of Pittsburgh will be gone and I don’t want that.”

Reuse the Igloo also would like to see the SEA open the arena’s distinctive dome as a demonstration to see if it still works and to determine the cost of operating it.

SEA Executive Director Mary Conturo said no vote has been scheduled yet on a demolition, favored by the Penguins, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and county Executive Dan Onorato.

She said the SEA is still in the process of reviewing options through an ongoing historic review process.

Asked whether the SEA would agree to a one-year delay, board chairman Wayne Fontana said the request would be taken under advisement.

“I’m not adverse to anything at this point,” he said.

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