Making like the Syria Mosque

Yesterday the Sports and Exhibition Authority voted unanimously to tear down the Civic Arena.

I don’t know.

Is it wrong of me that I’m okay either way?

I would be okay if it is repurposed and I’ll be okay if it’s torn down.

I’ve said it before, I waver on this one.

Both sides have legitimate points. Both sides are equally passionate that their view is the correct one. Both sides are armed with data that seemingly proves their point and shoots munchkin-sized holes in their opponent’s.

In this case “munchkin-sized” means “donut-hole-sized,” not “little person-sized.”

In some cases, I look at the Civic Arena and I think it would be a shame to tear down such unique architecture, but then I look at this picture and I think, what the hell are we going to do with two giant arenas right next to each other?!


That just doesn’t even LOOK right. Could you imagine if they built PNC Park and Heinz Field on either side of Three Rivers Stadium and then left it standing?

But then again, PNC Park and Heinz Field are right next to each other and it looks fine.


I don’t know, you guys. I honestly just don’t know.

This is one issue I’ve got to be Switzerland on.

There will be legal maneuvers right up until the detonator is pressed and it’s going to be contentious and maybe even downright ugly as accusations are already being thrown around that the SEA board’s pockets are being lined and at yesterday’s vote, someone shouted out “Gestapo.”

Lovely. Really.

I don’t know about you, but I’m staying out of it.

If it comes down, I’ll thank it for the memories, and then make new ones in the Consol.

Preferably memories that start with Stanley and end with Cup.


  1. Tracy @ The Chameleon's Backbone
    September 18, 2010 7:36 am

    We are spending a lot of time talking about this ONE building. About 500 buildings A YEAR are demolished in the City, and the City’s building condemntation list totals over 1,000 buildings! If you want to talk about losing community character in the City, let’s talk about the totality of the City’s demolition issue, not just this one building that got media attention. There are so many historic buildings in this City with incredible history, dating back as far as the 1800s, and the entire collection of them is what makes Pittsburgh unique.

  2. bucdaddy
    September 18, 2010 10:37 am


    “Dilapidated” does not = “historic.”

    Ask the neighbors around some of those 1,000 buildings.

  3. bucdaddy
    September 18, 2010 11:10 am

    Can I drive the bulldozer? OOO! OOO! I wanna swing that big hundred-ton ball thingie on the end of a crane and watch it bounce off the dome. OOO! OOO! I want to nuke it from space and leave a smoking crater.

    Cause that would be cool.

  4. gunnlino
    September 18, 2010 11:54 am

    Passions run high and hot and I for one, know the feeling well.
    But you really need to try Decaf. Your vociferous opposition to the razing of the Arena smacks of anger, shrill and irresponsible attacks on anyone who disagrees with you.
    Pittsburgh and Western Pa has been rife with corruption and single party politics for , what? the past 100 years? Why do you think things are done the way they are done?
    Do you really believe anything has/will change with this issue? As I recall the Pens and SEA has had control over the building and land since the whole deal was first written down. All this loud talking and frothing at the mouth is an exercise in futility.
    Take a deep breath and try to relax.

  5. maninblack
    September 18, 2010 11:59 am

    Wow, 22 of 52 comments by one guy. He must really really really like the Civic Arena. Its a dump. Settle down.

  6. PK
    September 18, 2010 12:48 pm

    When you look at the architectural history of Pittsburgh, there are often more flops than successes. Allegheny Market was mentioned, as well as the 1960s urban-redevelopment rape of East Liberty. Did you know that the Fulton Building downtown nee Renaissance Hotel had a twin across the street? No? Well, the next time you’re walking across the Sixth Street Bridge from PNC Park and see that squat parking garage on Ft. Duquesne and Sixth picture the Renaissance sitting there as well.

    Once upon a time Pittsburgh had visionaries that realized the importance of re-imaging old venues for new uses. Heinz Hall and the Benedum were waiting for the wrecking ball before Jack Heinz stepped in. (And ironically, his original vision called for a cultural “acropolis” on the Hill where the Igloo and parking lots now rest.) Hell, when the County Building was designed they literally moved the Morgue one block south by frakkin’ OXES (!) to save it.

    I saw Rush in concert the other night and I will admit that they sounded better there than I ever remember hearing them at the Civic Arena. But when I looked through the windows of the Lexus Club (oy) and saw the Igloo standing there, I thought, here we go again.

    As Tom Murphy once opined about the casino deals, I think the “fix” has been long in to demolish the Igloo. Danny-O and Lukey need their campaign contributions, after all. But when the Igloo goes, we’ll lose more than a building. Go ahead and say that you can’t build for the future on memories alone, but that’s exactly what happened in places like the Cultural District.

    Or, you could subscribe to Frank Lloyd Wright’s infamous answer to the question of how he would improve Pittsburgh – “Abandon it.”

  7. djh
    September 18, 2010 1:13 pm

    As someone who worked many a show at the Igloo, I’ll be sad to see it go.

    I just want to know who has the scrap rights for the steel dome. Now there is some serious money.

  8. bucdaddy
    September 18, 2010 5:37 pm

    For a lesson in how this is all going to turn out, the Arena preservation crowd need only research the inevitably one-sided fight over Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

  9. Sexy Jesus
    September 18, 2010 6:11 pm

    The arena is hideous. Inside and out. It’s cramped, dark and smelly (seriously, has anyone been inside in the last 20 years, it has a distinct smell). The faster it is torn down the better, but I want to know where BJ will watching so that I can gather and drink his tears.

  10. Carol P
    September 18, 2010 7:29 pm

    @45…Now That’s Church.

  11. all yinz need is love
    September 18, 2010 9:51 pm

    I also was on the fence but BeauJaques pushed me off. My 1st choice for development would be housing similar to Crawford Square – but with commercial buildings and stores mixed in

  12. BeauJacques
    September 18, 2010 11:30 pm

    Sybil, haters, bite me!

  13. BeauJacques
    September 18, 2010 11:43 pm

    You can’t HANDLE the truth!!

    Burkle and the Pens will be using ALL of it as for-income parking lots (now with greater guaranteed success after Lukey’s sellout of Pgh residents) well into the next decade, period.

    That LSD-delusional, Crawford Sq-like govt (ours) money will be long gone by 2015 when their deal says they gotta stop being a parking lot, and by then it will be the only place regular working folk can afford to park in the city, get used to it now.

  14. Pa-pop
    September 18, 2010 11:45 pm

    Species BellusIohannes, also known as “ferret on a double espresso,” is probably getting underserved credit for pushing people off “fences.” His copious – if not erudite – rantings are most likely doing nothing more than crystallizing opposing viewpoints that were shaped already. So if we can ignore the static, at the end of the day it’s not about the sticky, stinky, stale fossil of an entertainment venue. It’s about the dome, stupid.

    Granted, some people dismiss that inverted silver bowl as no more than a blighted, overgrown casserole lid, but like it or not, it is unique, it is an engineering marvel, it is a symbol of an optimistic era, and it is a significant landmark. It does not define our landscape in a single stroke as does the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but no one can argue it is not a part of the mosaic that is Pittsburgh.

    By scooping out the tired old innards and preserving the dome and following the prescription for any of a half-dozen outstanding proposals for re-purposing, and by seeking out grants, private funds, foundations, private investment, and some existing federal and state dollars to sustain it, the arena will actually add value to surrounding development. And all because of its unique dome.

    All of this requires courage to boldly think ahead to the past and avoid the harsh lesson of “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.” I rue the day a wrecking ball pokes that first hole in the roof and everyone awakens to the reality of our loss with a collective, “Oh, crap.”

  15. BeauJacques
    September 18, 2010 11:49 pm

    You’ve been duped, again! Vote D D D D, it’s for “D”uped!

  16. BeauJacques
    September 18, 2010 11:53 pm


    Not erudite???


    Ouch n’at!

  17. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 12:16 am

    Read the print! They have 10 years, are ‘supposed’ to develop
    2.8 acres per year, but the Dome sits on the choicest parking parcel! Hence the rush!

    ” ‘talked’ to several big developers…” yeah…and “the $12 million G20 check’s in the mail,”….”just trust us!” …. “I won’t come…”

    They’re not going to develop ANYTHING but parking PAY-booths!

    Get used to the walk, and the car break-ins!

  18. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 12:27 am

    They don’t want ANY part of the 9 acres bordering Crawford Sq,

    they say they can’t start ANYTHING until the dome is down?????

    uhhhh, didn’y PNC Place just get built? Market Square?

    Please explain why they can’t start on the 9 acres bordering the Hill? (because we know why!)

    The 28-acre site includes not only the arena property but the 9.5-acre Melody Tent site near Crawford Square owned by the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority.

    However, Mr. Morehouse argued it made no sense to try to start redeveloping portions of the land while demolition is taking place elsewhere on the site.

    What a crock of shit!

    Read more:

  19. usedtoworkthere
    September 19, 2010 1:16 am

    When they do tear it down expect the Hill and all surrounding buildings to be infested with cockroaches and rats. Mellon was infested when I worked there and according to employees making the move things were worse. When that building comes down with a boom everything is going to scatter…..I would watch from a distance!

    If you have ever been deep inside you would know why they want to drop it. Yeah it’s a great design but it’s way past it’s prime for anything but a Rat and Cockroach motel.

  20. joe
    September 19, 2010 5:42 am

    Imagine it as a big green hill with a Commons on top recreating Grant’s Hill. Bury part of the crosstown, and connect the hill to the city.

  21. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 8:40 am

    @usedtoworkthere (AKA- 3 other ID’s in this thread)-

    Get a GPS!

    The Rat and Cockroach Motel already exists, 4 blocks away, on Grant St., the City-County Building!

  22. Rob
    September 19, 2010 9:50 am

    Nobody has come up with any sensible idea for reusing the Arena. An indoor park?? Another ice rink that few use like the PPG one?? We need the tax dollars from developing the site but I do think we should commemorate the Arena somehow like they did with the Forbes Field wall.

  23. Noelle
    September 19, 2010 10:16 am

    Hi Rob! I was hoping you’d chime in.

  24. Monty
    September 19, 2010 10:27 am

    @ Rob — Totally agree. I’ve been pushing them to hermetically seal Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin in the arena for one year to see if they can save the environment, but no one is listening.

  25. bucdaddy
    September 19, 2010 11:27 am

    Mrs. Daddy couldn’t understand why they demolished Three Rivers Stadium. She thought it was a perfectly good building, and putting up new ballparks, such as PNC, was a waste of money.

    Hands up out there: Who misses Three Rivers Stadium?

    There were probably people who got all teary-eyed and protesty when buildings they’d seen or worked in their whole loves got demolished for Renaissance and Renaissance II, too.

    Hands up out there: Who misses what used to sit on Gateway Center and the Point?

    You know there were people who were miserable when the steel mills got torn down, places they’d expended their blood and sweat for decades. Many a beer got raised.

    Hands up out there: Who’d rather have an abandoned, decrepit, falling-down mill than The Waterfront or South Side Works?

    I rest my case.

    Out with the old, in with the new.*

    *–This is NOT an endorsement of the sham way the Arena deal is being handled, just a clear-eyed, unsentimental view of reality.

  26. bucdaddy
    September 19, 2010 11:28 am

    *–whole lives

  27. Lauren
    September 19, 2010 3:13 pm

    @ BeauJaques

    LOL, I live in El Paso. The government owns mine and my husbands ass and trust me, our lives suck WAY more than yours because of the government. Do you worry about bullets from the most dangerous city in the world flying into your car every day? I wish I worked for Burkle, because then it would mean I have a job, which I can’t have here because I don’t speak Spanish. Your insinuations are laughable.

    People have the freedom of choice in this country to gamble or not. If people can’t handle themselves, it’s not the government’s job to take care of them. I think it’s great that a tax that one chooses to pay or not is what’s responsible for funding. It beats sales tax or property taxes.

    You still haven’t addressed why the preservationists are only speaking up now. The Pens and SEA have had rights to the building for years now. When the new arena deal was first announced, it was stipulated that the Civic Arena would be torn down and replaced with MUCH NEEDED parking, retail space, office space, and residential space. If you’ve ever been to the arena in Phoenix, that’s what they’re aiming for. It’s lovely to go to dinner before a game, browse some stores, go to the game, and then after the game go get drinks and relax. It would be a draw for sure.

    If the Civic Arena could be preserved and still accomplish that vision, great. But my guess is, as others have stated in this commentary, the building is beyond saving. Ever since the new arena was finalized, the upkeep for the Civic Arena has been minimal. The place is already falling apart and it will cost lots of money to update. Where is it coming from? Where is the plan to repurpose it? It’s been three years.

  28. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 3:28 pm


    Luv Tico’s Tacos!

  29. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 3:43 pm

    Obviously from your vantage point in El Paso you are effing clueless about the glut of office space, the inability to entice business downtown, degenerate gambling addiction, the city parking scandal, and the shell game that was the WHOLE Penguins- SEA, new venue abortion from the beginning!!

    There was no open planning, no input, nothing but the most smegma-dripping kind of backroom deals!

    Stick to El Paso problems, you’ve got enuff!!

  30. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 3:51 pm

    cr- Chicos Tacos

  31. Butcher's Dog
    September 19, 2010 4:32 pm

    I’ll bet Bo Jack still thinks there are no men on the Pens new ice crew, too.

    Lauren, I think I love you. To the best of my knowledge, no one as yet has answered the question, “Where were you three years ago?”

  32. Rob
    September 19, 2010 5:16 pm

    Millennium Park has no buildings and has been a park for years. Recently, it was revitalized into a modern park with sculpture and an Amphitheatre. It is by the lakefront in the city. It’s totally different from the Arena. Your idea calls for an indoor park (in the Arena) to be the centerpiece of some larger park on the outskirts of town. Who wants to go to an indoor park – do you get this question? We already have Phipps Conservatory. Another ice rink in the winter – who is going to use it? How is any of this going to be paid for? If this were a historical office building, at least it could be used. The problem is, there is no use for the Arena. I’ve gone to many memorable events at the Arena – Stones in 65, Michael Jackson’s only visit, many Penguin games, Circuses, Disney on Ice, etc. I don’t dislike the Arena but there is no practical use for it and it’s not important enough to preserve for its own sake – sorry. It has to go.

  33. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 5:31 pm


    Everybody who cared was waiting to see WHICH entity would actually have CONTROL!!

    Are you THAT much of an uninformed idiot?? Lauren doesn’t know cuz she was in El Paso!!


  34. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 5:36 pm

    3 years ago EVERYBODY was trying to find out what secret,
    corrupt, slimy, self-enriching promises were made, by who, to who! GET IT??

  35. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 5:38 pm

    Now it’s “Quick!! Quick!! HURRY!!!! Tear it down fast before the idiots figure it out!!”

  36. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 5:48 pm

    How about 8 years ago lauren? Butcher’s?

    Mellon Arena’s future still in limbo
    By Stephanie Franken
    Wednesday, July 10, 2002

    The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Association, along with Preservation Pittsburgh, nominated Mellon Arena for historic designation in May……..

    The owner of Mellon Arena, the Sports & Exhibition Authority, already has made its position on Mellon Arena clear. It is working on a financing plan for a new Penguins arena — and those plans do not include the old arena, SEA spokesman Greg Yesko said.

  37. BeauJacques
    September 19, 2010 5:50 pm

    The members of the SEA make Heidi Fleiss’es whores look like
    Girl Scouts!

  38. BeauJacques
    September 20, 2010 4:53 am


    48-year-old shot to death in Hill District

    Sunday, September 19, 2010
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    A 48-year-old man was shot and killed in the Hill District shortly after 8 tonight.

    The Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said the shooting occurred in the 2100 block of Elmore Square. The victim’s name has not been released. The city homicide squad is investigating.

    Read more:

  39. Butcher's Dog
    September 20, 2010 8:13 am

    OK, I get it that the Hill has a higher crime rate than, say, the small town I live in. I get it that, free enterprise being what it is, there’s probably a real good economic reason that no grocery stores, etc., have move there in the past. But some of the other rants we’ve seen on this issue (must not be much to occupy minds this weekend!) are putting some of us squarely into the BatShitCrazy camp. I think we know who I’m looking at on this one.

  40. Butcher's Dog
    September 20, 2010 8:14 am

    I also get “move there” should have read “moved there”. No need to correct my grammar.

  41. BeauJaques filter please!
    September 20, 2010 8:28 am

    That’s all just a filter, call in hate call it whatever you want Just stop my eyes from bleeding having to see all his garbage!!

  42. MadMadMad
    September 20, 2010 9:50 am

    BJ is starting to sound just as one-sided and unbalanced as SRP. Respond to comments, viewpoints, facts – fine. But attacking personally anyone who doesn’t share his viewpoint, calling names and flinging personal insults? It’s getting ridiculous – he’s got half the comments on this post. If SRP was filtered out, why not this whackjob?

  43. Lauren
    September 20, 2010 10:02 am

    LOL, because I don’t physically live in Pittsburgh any more (it’s been 3 years, BTW) I have no clue what’s going on there. Those internetz do nothing to keep me in the loop : ) In case anyone cares, I did go to Duquesne for 4 years, which, unless I’ve forgotten in the 3 months since I’ve visited, is right next door to all of this.

    Anyway, I don’t see the problem that the SEA was planning on tearing Mellon down from the start. As the authority responsible for maintaining it, they knew the costs and effort required. My guess is they didn’t think it was worth saving. That still doesn’t address where the preservationists have been. If the evil SEA has been planning for EIGHT YEARS to get rid of the Civic Arena, then they should have been even MORE ready with a plan for reuse. Still waiting on that.

  44. MattDC
    September 20, 2010 12:14 pm

    Nor’Side Girl @11 — But keeping the roof closed trapped that cannabis haze that turned the arena into a giant bong, which in turn made all those concerts so memorable. In fact, I can’t remember any of them.

  45. Scott
    September 20, 2010 12:25 pm

    Anyone who supports “saving” the Igloo needs to take a close look at the St. Nicholas Church along Rt 28 on the North Side. It was “saved” in a similar fashion based on the concept that it is a valuable local treasure that must be preserved due to its importance. A mere few years later, it is a weed-choked eyesore which has cost taxpayers millions of dollars due to revisions it forced on the huge Rt 28 project. Apparently, the folks who felt so passionately about saving it cannot even be bothered to provide basic upkeep for the church, let alone anything remotely resembling a plan for some use for the building.

    I see this Save the Igloo group as the exact same thing. What is their plan? Where will they produce the significant funds required to maintain the building and surrounding grounds? Etc, etc…

    I have many fantastic memories of the Igloo. It has been replaced by an incredible new building right across the street. It is time to tear the Igloo down and MOVE ON.

  46. Betoon
    September 20, 2010 12:36 pm

    I’m with Ginny on this one. I don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other, and having seen concerts at both the Syria Mosque and the Arena, my memories are about the acts not the venue. After growing up in Turtle Creek where every other building was torn down for “Urban Renewal” and a 4 lane highway that connects 4 distressed communities I am jaded.

  47. Joe K.
    September 20, 2010 12:52 pm

    @ bucdaddy #76: Actually I’d rather see a mill still producing steel at the Waterfront but I digress.

    I don’t like the way this vote was conducted, but I’m with the people who say the preservationists have had plenty of time to come up with funding by now. I just hope it doesn’t turn into a sea of asphalt.

  48. Dan (Not Onarato)
    September 20, 2010 1:09 pm


    Will they tear it down? Yes
    Was this decided the minute after they got money for the Con? Yes
    Will it be Civic Arena be missed? Yes
    Will it improve the Hill District? No
    Will BeauJaques chain himself to the dome before demolition? Probably
    Will BeauJaques get over this? Eventually

    Its ok…I hate to say this but its time to say goodbye. Although I did see a good idea by tearing down the igloo except for the steel “arm” and leaving the bottom open as a outdoor ice arena in the winter and maybe something else in the warmer months.

  49. Al Lambrini
    September 20, 2010 1:13 pm

    thing is until they re route bigelow, Washington Pl, Centre and Bedford, the only thing triangle is good for is a parking lot otherwise you are trapped/blockaded and cut off from therest of the city by traffic who would want to work or live in the middle of that no man’s land unless you solve those issues you will just repeas tthe original mistake