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Don't blame Mellon Arena for Hill problems

Written by Susan Mannella on .

I don't have a dog in the race for what should be done with Mellon Arena, but the position taken by many who claim the arena caused the "devastation of the Hill District" seems either to be revisionist history or limited misapplied logic.

Phrases such as "horrible socio-economic impact," "cut off the life-blood" and "killed the historic jazz scene" have been used by some writers to describe the multi-use facility's impact on the Hill, making it appear as though no other factors have been responsible for the current state of the neighborhood. Are we making a case that if the arena had been built in Oakland (as was Forbes Field), Oakland would have faded into what the Hill has suffered? Would the "jazz scene" still be bopping?

We are talking about a facility that created jobs and brought people to the Hill. This was not the Berlin Wall and the Hill did not require air lift support. Representatives of the Hill District have made numerous requirements of the new Consol Energy Center, so it would follow that they see an entertainment complex in the community as a benefit.

Let's apply some common sense here and not simplistically blame a building for the plight of the Hill. Or is this another way to distract the voters from asking their elected officials about the truly underutilized facility that should be "saved" from abandonment -- the Pittsburgh International Airport?

JOEL C. BORSH
Canonsburg, Pa

 

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