Igloo Demo Debate

Pittsburgh’s iconic Igloo could be set for demolition following a Sept. 16 vote by Sports and Exhibition Authority officials.

Members of the Authority board voted unanimously and without public discussion to begin selling off assets from the aging Mellon Arena within two months, according to the Tribune-Review.

A demolition contract could reportedly be awarded early next year to finish off the facility.

Sen. Wayne Fontana, who chairs the board, told the Tribune-Review that the Authority had done its “due diligence” to consider proposals to save the building. Talk of demolishing the building has been ongoing and the board “felt confident and didn’t need to discuss” the decision, he explained.

But preservationists in the city beg to differ, saying they weren’t given sufficient opportunities to plead their case to save the venue, and plan to take legal action to halt the razing of the facility.

Rob Pfaffman of Reuse the Igloo told the paper his group plans to file for an injunction to stop the process should the authority file for a demolition contract.

“As a citizen, you deal with the process you’re given,” he said. “We didn’t get a fair shake.”

Pfaffman proposed a compromise in which the Authority could proceed in a “non-destructive” fashion by selling off venue assets while still considering alternate uses for the arena.

The NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, which will begin playing in the city’s new Consol Energy Center Sept. 25, own development rights to the 28-acre site that currently includes Mellon Arena.

With the news of the Authority’s vote to demolish the Igloo, team CEO David Morehouse said the Penguins could begin fielding proposals from developers interested in working on the site.

“We can start talking to developers and we can start focusing on the development side of it a little bit more than we could before when it was uncertain whether the arena was going to be demolished,” he told the Post-Gazette.

The team has envisioned using the site for a mixed-use development with housing, office and commercial space and a hotel, the paper reported.