The city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority board awarded a $926,419 contract this morning to clear a path for a new arena, even as the Penguins and state and local officials bicker over funding for the building.
Under the contract, Empire Dismantlement Corp. will demolish 11 buildings in the Fifth and Centre avenue corridors, Uptown, to clear the site for the Penguins' proposed new home, which would be across the street from Mellon Arena. Nine of the buildings to be demolished are on Fifth Avenue and two are on the Epiphany Church campus. The church itself is not involved.
The SEA is hoping to begin demolishing the structures next month in anticipation of a September groundbreaking for the new building. Still to be negotiated is the purchase of the old St. Francis Central Hospital, which is owned by the Penguins and needed for the arena. The purchase price likely will be part of the talks between the team and public officials over funding for the facility.
The Penguins paid $8 million for the building. Whatever the SEA offers for the building could end up counting against the $8.5 million upfront contribution required of the team under the Plan B funding formula for the arena.
Other Plan B funding sources include $7.5 million a year for 30 years from city casino winner Don Barden and $7 million a year for 30 years from a state economic development fund financed through gambling revenues. The Penguins share has yet to be determined, but is believed to be less than the $2.9 million a year the Pirates put into PNC Park funding.