Sports Authority awards contract to demolish Civic Arena

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Despite a lawsuit filed by preservationists who want to save the Civic Arena, the Sports & Exhibition Authority this morning awarded a contract for demolishing it.

The board unanimously approved a $2.9 million contract with Noralco Corp. of Penn Hills.

Mary Conturo, authority executive director, said the company will provide demolition plans in a couple of weeks. Her staff then will review the plans and give Noralco permission to proceed.

The work will begin with asbestos remediation inside the arena. The entire demolition process will take nine to 10 months, Ms. Conturo said.

After months in which they argued for the arena's preservation but failed to win historic status for the building, preservationists on Wednesday filed suit in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

The suit by Preservation Pittsburgh argues that demolition would violate the National Historic Preservation Act by using highway funds to redevelop the site. It asks the court to declare demolition "unlawful and invalid," and to bar the use of federal funds to rebuild streets around the 28-acre arena site.

The SEA, many city officials and the Penguins want to replace the arena with commercial, residential and retail development.

Ms. Conturo today described the suit as a delay tactic at the end of an open, extensive debate over the arena's fate.

"We're confident about our legal position," Ms. Conturo said.

The demolition contract was scheduled for a vote today before the suit was filed, she said.


Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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