Destroying the ‘Igloo’ will have a negative effect on the city

Written By Adelyn Biedenbach

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 As government supporters for preserving the “Igloo” grow fewer in number, the word on the street is that the ice dome that holds so many memories for Pittsburgh hockey fans may soon be no more.            The Civic Arena opened in 1961 and served as the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey franchise since its inception in 1967. Its name was changed in 1999 when the beloved space became known as Mellon Arena.            The arena holds a certain amount of nostalgic value, as all sports venues do, but there are so many special aspects that make it unlike any other. For instance, there is no constructed dome quite like it anywhere in the United States.            The loss of the “Igloo” is like the death of a Pittsburgh sports legend for a town that holds sports above all else. Most high schoolers received a day off from school the last time the Steelers won the Super Bowl.            All three of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup Championships were won there, and in its last seasons, it saw hundreds of consecutive sellouts. The greats have played there, and memories remain in the hearts of the fans.            Two of hockey’s greatest captains, Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux, have shown exquisite athleticism and ability inside the “Igloo,” setting records and winning games that will be remembered forever.             Many other events have been held in the venue, from concerts to “Disney on Ice.” According to Mellon Arena’s website, even the Beatles played there in Sept. 1964, and Elvis made an appearance in June 1973.            But in addition to all of the emotional value, the arena is a landmark, a tourist attraction and a wonderful piece of architecture. The majority of the plans that I have seen for the Hill District sans-Igloo have included simple cross streets and perhaps a few stores.            Awesome. Let’s build a bunch of stores that will more than likely only be open a few hours a day, and not much good for the people of Pittsburgh or the city’s economy.            To me, it seems like a no-brainer to me to develop the former arena into something amazing. Think of the tourists that will come- the Penguins are one of the fastest-growing franchises in all of sports.            Why not convert the Mellon Arena into something that could improve the city’s economy? I’ve seen plans for parks inside an opened dome, or even a shopping center in the perimeter of the “Igloo.”            The argument that it would be costly to develop something substantial is genuine, but like any business venture, it must be undertaken in a way that the long-term benefits will outweigh the costs. It would be equally costly to demolish the arena, build a plethora of empty buildings and hope someone does something useful with them.            The Consol Energy Center is a welcome new addition to the Hill District, but the “Igloo” will always hold cards that the Consol Energy Center does not.It would be very disappointing to see the Mellon Arena knocked down, and I don’t see any good that can come from it. It would be an aesthetically detrimental loss to the Downtown area and an emotional blow to Pittsburghers and athletes.            The economic potential inherent in developing the arena could result in a positive impact for this city, and I wish that the opportunity would be taken advantage of.            Otherwise, a beautiful piece of architecture and valuable memory will disappear forever, only to be seen in pictures. And with the costs of its construction, an arena it that will probably never be seen again on the face of the earth.

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