Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Arena 'Plan C' offers Penguins profits.

This is bad, and its outcome goes the wrong way in the end.

Once again part of what Bill Peduto says makes sense and is worthy of support. Then the other part of what he says is hated. A little bit of good and a ton of bad.

If this was football, Bill Peduto played the game like Ohio State played last night. Opening kickoff goes for a TD and the rest is ugly.

Or if it is one play, Bill Peduto takes the conversation, the ball, downfield on a sweep to the sidelines. His student body left or right advances more than 10 yards giving a first down -- if only he did a Franco and ducked out of bounds then and there. But no. Peduto doesn't allow himself to stop where he should (IMNSHO). Peduto keeps on his feet. He reverses field. He goes back the other way and ends up seeing daylight. He runs backwards for 30 yards. He runs in the opposite direction ending up with a net loss of three times what he could have gained. Ouch.

Cheering for Peduto feels a lot like cheering for Ohio State in last nights big BCS Championship Game. The opening kickoff is a great run and touch down. Excitement swells! Then comes the rest of the game and a total disappointment follows. Florida blew the doors off of Ohio State after the first play.

I'm glad to see Bill Peduto do something to address the Pens situation. He finally went onto the field.

Last week I asked City Council to call a combined post agenda and public hearing concerning the Penguins and Civic Arena situation. They didn't. They had little to loose. They should have gotten some discussion moving on this hot topic.

On the kick off, Bill takes the ball and scores big points with me by saying tht the Penguins should share in the profits of activities that go beyond the game day transactions. The Pens greed makes it so that they'll need to have a better upside in the dealings so as to have long-term mega profits. The luxery and corporate boxes, naming rights, concessions and broadcasting elements are just not enough. Poor, poor, Pens.

I like the idea that Bill Peduto is thinking out of the box. He understands that there are creative ways to put the Pens operations into the bedrock of Western Pennsylvania. This makes it so the team won't threaten moves again in the next 5, 10 or 20 years.

I like the move too so as to link Don Barden's offers to the Pens and a proposal to invest in the Hill District.

Then everything else just sucks.

The Pens should NOT build its new venue on the lower Hill District. But, the Pens could sell its existing land interests in the lower Hill District to Don Barden.

Barden's money can provide an exit plan for the past investments of The Pens so as to not tie up that property for entertainment.

The lower Hill District and the upper Hill District need some serious attention. We need to make sustainable development work with the fabric of the community. We can't wedge a new venue in there that doesn't fit to the scale and desires of what we really needs -- affordable housing, mixed use properties, density of development, home owners, small businesses. The whole Hill District should start to thrive again by getting back to the basics. From Oak Hill to the edge of the Civic Arena property, there is a lot of potential.

I predict that the population throughout the Hill District to Oakland could increase by 20-times in 10 years if the right leadership emerged.

Presently, there is a lot of vacant land there. That land should be taxed heavily. Then the fix ups to the properties should be without new taxes. As we shift back to a land value tax, the Hill District would boom., as would other places in the inner core of the city.

One of the keys to getting The Hill District to flourish again is develop without the mess and snarls of a new hockey venue. Putting in a new palace, right in your face, isn't going to offer the stability and investment understanding that people want as a close neighbor.

If a public owned, public financed hockey venue goes into the lower Hill District, as proposed by Plan C, then tens of thousands of other home owners won't show up as residents and small business owners in those nearby neighborhoods.

I feel that you could put a ton of public housing around a new hockey arena and force people to live there. But we've tried that. It failed. We took down the projects -- for good reason. Or, you could put the new arena somewhere else in Allegheny County and thousands of people will move back into the Hill District in an organic way.

Calm the Hill District with peace keeping and by supporting basic needs -- and then we'd see those neighborhoods flourish again. Sensible development would work. New investments from a slew of owners would welcome a new day for the torn corners of The Hill.

A new hockey venue isn't a way to calm that part of the city.

I do love the concept of having local and state officials working with the Penguins to partner in development efforts so as to share in the profits. That concept would be key to negotiations to keep the team from moving out of state.

But don't give away a great part of the city to The Penguins. The greatness of The Hill District won't re-emerge under the guidance and ownership of The Penguins.

Get the Penguins 300, 400, or 500 acres of land out by the airport. We have the land there. We have the highways. We want a new palace for the Penguins. It could fit next to a new, urban, Olympic Village where The Penguins could sell high rise condos for people of all ages.

Remember Washington's Landing? That whole development sprung up around a rowing center. But this Olympic Village, the Penguins Village, should be with high rise buildings, not golf course town houses. We have Neville wood already. This would be a short van ride to the golf courses and the botanical gardens at Settler's Cabin. But, this vision is for new urban living, mixed use, long-term investment, home owners, condo living, vertical office park, recreation, and day cares for both babies and seniors.

If the Pens had a big chunk of that in the negotiations and 5,000 of its fan base was within walking distance on game night -- we'd be onto something new for exansion that the world would value and celebrate.

Arena 'Plan C' offers Penguins profits Peduto proposal would allow team to share in Mellon Arena site, Lower Hill development

Tuesday, January 09, 2007
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

State and local politicians should go beyond Plan B to offer the Penguins something other cities can't -- a share of the profits in the redevelopment of the Mellon Arena site, city Councilman Bill Peduto says.

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