Allentown Arena Stalemate

A plan to build a $158 million, 8,500-capacity hockey arena in Allentown, Pa., remains at an impasse amid ongoing debate between the parties involved.

The Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners rejected the City of Allentown’s proposal to settle a lawsuit regarding construction of the arena.

Commissioners said during a May 21 public meeting that a 2009 state law that uses municipal taxes to fund the project is unconstitutional and must be rewritten or overturned, according to the Morning Call.

“We support the arena. We support Allentown being revitalized to the way it was in the ’80s,” commission President Paul Weiss told the paper. “But we do have some problems with the way it was funded.”

Commissioners voted that in order to continue negotiations, the law must be rewritten to exclude people who work in the proposed arena tax zone but don’t live there.

The decision is another setback for Allentown officials who hoped to have the arena open for the American Hockey League’s Phantoms 2013 season.

“We are disappointed that Bethlehem Township has not accepted our settlement offer, which fully protects 100 percent of their existing earned income tax and also provides for a mechanism to share in future growth. The project will put thousands of people to work and be good for our economy,” Allentown Mayor Ed Pawloski said in a statement to the Morning Call.

“We continue to be committed to doing whatever possible to resolve this litigation and welcome continued negotiation. This project is too important for Allentown and the entire Lehigh Valley region to allow protracted litigation in the court system to delay it.”

Meanwhile, Hanover Township officials reportedly joined their Bethlehem counterparts in rejecting the plan.