The legal opposition to the demolition of the Civic Arena ran out of chances and time recently. Much like a condemned prisoner, the historical home of the Pittsburgh Penguins has now begun its death march.
Recent video shows the insides of the arena, which even at the five to 10 percent estimated completion rate, already looks like a shell of its former self. This is what the arena would have looked like had Jean-Claude Van Damme not prevailed at the end of the film Sudden Death.
As a lifelong Pittsburgher, looking at the video stirs up many emotions. Among them are the great memories of concerts and hockey games that I witnessed there.
Memories of the past were not enough to keep the arena intact. Sadly, that is how it should be.
I take no joy in the destruction of the Civic Arena, but I do recognize the necessity of it. The chance to rebuild such a large tract of land in the heart of Pittsburgh is too great to pass up.
Hopefully this redevelopment will not only make an area similar to that on the North Side between Heinz Field and PNC Park (I refuse to call it the "North Shore"), but will also serve to revitalize the Hill District.
The Hill District was once one of the premier African-American neighborhoods in the United States, but the relocation, development and construction that was necessary to construct the Civic Arena is said to have levied an incalculable toll on the community. I do not profess to know the whole story on this issue, but it seems fair to say this statement is the minimum that needs to be considered to fairly look at the history of the Civic Arena.
As for the Arena itself, its history was incredible and its design was revolutionary when it was first drafted. On that end, one can certainly understand why many sought a historical designation to save the building.
Having a giant albatross stand directly across from the Consol Energy Center does not make much sense, though. Nostalgia is nice, but Pittsburgh needs to continue to move forward.
Nobody will forget the Civic Arena. A building with so many positive and negative stories simply will not disappear when it is gone.
Even if you feel that way, it still is sad to see the Civic Arena destruction making progress. Sad, but necessary.
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