Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Plan D objections: See the light -- part 1

Bill Peduto's Plan C was a topic of a brief discussion in council chambers today. I told Bill and a few others, get the talk of building a new hockey venue to another place besides the lower Hill District.

Bill's first quick objection was to the point of the hockey lockout. When the Pens didn't play a season of hockey recently, some in downtown, like Joyce at the Carlynton, nearly went out of business. The hockey fans helped keep him alive by eating meals there, even when the eatery is downtown.

No problem.

When the Penguins move to another venue in Allegheny County, perhaps there will be an opportunity to establish a new resturant within the complex of the new hockey arena, say out near the airport.

More to the point however, when the Pens move to another venue outside of Allegheny County -- the Civic Arena is still going to be there where it sits now. The Pens might play hockey elsewhere -- and in turn -- there will be more and different events slated at the existing Civic Arena.

Perhaps civic events hosted at the Civic Arena after hockey leaves the venue will be able to generate more customers for downtown eating establishments than what was done with Penguins fans.

If the lower Hill District, and the rest of the Hill District swells with new business and new home/condo owners, then the resturant will have tons of additional traffic on a day in and day out basis. Let's beef up the hill with new housing and in-fill developments and make that area attractive. Then there will be lots of new customers who are not there now.

Furthermore, the new customers I'm speaking about would never choose to live in the shaddow of a mega hockey venue. They won't want to live next door to Mario's new ice palace.

The entire east end of Pittsburgh's central core can flourish after the Pens depart. A hockey night in Pittsburgh is an exciting time. But, if you have to go home after work to give relief to the baby sitter, or go to a school event, or dash out for grocery and what-not, it sucks to be stuck in hockey game traffic for 30 minutes.

Case in point: I go every month to our Libertarian Party meeting at Ritters Diner on Baum Blvd. I drive from my home on the South Side. On a hockey night this trip can take me 40-50 minutes. The game traffic brings a good section of the city to gridlock. That isn't fun for everyday headaches. People will choose to live elsewhere.

People won't want to develop the Hill District and beyond if the Pens build a new arena there. Those neighborhoods will continue to slide.

People won't want to invest in a new business and put it so close to the new hockey venue so as to prevent delivery trucks, have sky-high parking rates, contend with fans who fill every available parking spot for miles, and so on.

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