The political gridlock over the Civic Arena's future continued Monday at a two-hour meeting, but one thing was for sure: at least some of the crowd wasn't enthused to see or hear from Penguin President David Morehouse.
Morehouse, part of the pro-demolition crowd, was booed during his testimony by some of those in attendance who apparently forgot they weren't at a hockey game. Not to be lost in all this is the minor detail that the Penguins do have the development rights to over 28 acres of land including the arena, but nonetheless, Morehouse had this to say to he assembled and seemingly unwelcoming crowd:
"In the last 20 years, there have been 25 new NHL arenas, 25 NBA arenas, 22 Major League baseball ballparks, 22 NFL stadiums. An equal number of those arenas and stadiums have been demolished. The reason for that is because there's no real good economic viable reuse option for a structure of that size."
Conversely, State Senator Jim Ferlo urged the SEA, which owns the structure, to declare a "two-year cooling off period" to develop a process to consider alternative reuses for the venue. Hey, why not three years? It's not like anyone in the city knew this was going to eventually be an issue.
"What an embarrassing contradiction for city and county leaders to tout our green and sustainable initiatives, projecting new regional initiatives of sustainability principals and projects, yet are so quick to implement the self-serving and selfish demolition agenda of the Penguins organization."
To the surprise of no one, no action was ultimately decided on by the conclusion of the meeting, as State Senator Wayne Fontana, the SEA board chairman, said he personally wanted to review the testimony and give the matter some thought before deciding what to do.
The cause to save the arena has been led by the Reuse the Igloo group, which has developed a fairly extensive website on the topic and has been a visible and vocal presence in the ongoing debate. They've also started an online petition to save the building, which sits at a surprisingly low 1147 signatures at the time of this posting. If Monday's meeting was any indicator, that number can only rise, because this decision looks like it's going nowhere fast.
Speakers debate future of Civic Arena [Mark Belko/PG]
Reuse the Igloo [Reusetheigloo.com]
Mondesi's House: The Director's Cut (more links, commentary, etc: twitter.com/mondesishouse