Mellon Arena plan called faulty
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An economic development firm working for a group trying to preserve Mellon Arena said the Penguins' current development plan is based on faulty numbers and should be re-evaluated.
Todd J. Poole, president of 4Ward Planning, representing Reuse the Igloo, made his arguments Tuesday night to members of the city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority during a meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
"There should be development, and the Penguins should maintain their development rights," Mr. Poole said. "The objective tonight was to say, 'Slow the wagon down. Why the rush?' Let's take another look at the math and make sure we have the numbers right."
Reuse the Igloo is battling Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, County Executive Dan Onorato and the Penguins in its bid to save the 48-year-old landmark. Under a 2007 deal to build a new arena, the Penguins have development rights to the 28 acres of land where the current arena stands.
A study by Oxford Development valued the public benefit of the Penguins' plan at $103.5 million in wage and real estate taxes versus $53.8 million for a plan put forth by Reuse the Igloo.
"We pulled out excerpts from their own consultants' study and identified a variety of data errors," Mr. Poole said. "There are numbers in their plan that are patently wrong."
One example Mr. Poole cited was a transposition of salaries for workers. The Oxford Development plan, he said, listed retail workers as averaging $55,000 and office workers as earning $23,000.
"They transposed the numbers," he said. "I'm sure it was inadvertent. But it's more than just putting the numbers back in order. They used those numbers to calculate revenue that would be generated.
"It also brings into question other numbers. There's an issue with the accuracy of the Oxford Development analysis."
Reuse the Igloo wants to delay a decision on the arena's fate for at least 60 days for further study and discussion. But SEA Executive Director Mary Conturo has said more time would not "be in the best interests of the community."
Mr. Poole said he hopes to present his firm's alternative plan at the group's next meeting
"We didn't come in and say, 'Here's our plan.' We said, 'Let's take another look at your plan. There are some problems here.' "
First Published July 14, 2010 12:00 am