Dec 30, 2011

Allentown Arena Pain


Sometimes it's apparent from the start that something isn't a good plan, and the Arena is one of them. The lease terms, coaxed from the City by a Morning Call right to know order*, indicate that the Arena was oversold, to both the City Council and the taxpayers. This past fall, Mayor Pawlowski told Council that the venue would attract 1.5 million people and be open almost every night of the year. The cost was estimated to be $80-$100 million. The new figures, printed in The Morning Call, disclose a much different reality. The arena will cost $158 million, almost double the first projection. It will attract 400,000 people, less than a third promised. It will be open only 120 nights a year, almost guaranteeing failure. Considering that there are 40 home hockey games, that means the facility hopes to hold 80 other events a year, attracting about 200,000 people. The lease terms reveal that although the cream off the top will go the tenant, The Brooks Company, the taxpayers will finance this white elephant. Already the merchants on the south side of Hamilton Street have learned that when there's no people across the street, their business plummeted. Their predicament will only worsen. Arena supporters call this blog negativity. They place their bets on the NIZ producing spinoff enterprise. They suffer from institutional amnesia. Fifteen years ago Allentown had two new buildings at 7th and Hamilton, neither of which attracted tenants. One fell into a sinkhole, the other is now County owned. Since Allentown real estate taxes can be used to support any shortcoming in this public/private project, it's truly a yoke around the taxpayer's shoulders.
* court order and new figures by Scott Kraus
diagnosis of taxpayer pain by Dr. molovinsky

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

"They place their bets on the NIZ producing spinoff enterprise."
A correction: they place bets for us taxpayers that we neither want nor can afford.
They possess a level of arrogant impunity that screams of illegal behavior.
This will not only end badly, the start has been reprehensible too.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

I love the fact that you support gentrification!!! Did you express that to the business owners that you "supported" when eminent domain conversations were happening? My favorite MM quotes are now, "I’m leery of all the loft apartments being approved on Hamilton Street because I do not believe they will hit their target demographic and at the end of the day we will have sanctified 150 more apartments. Instead, I favor the gentrification of existing dwellings.", "Allentown’s problem with transients is with low income from New York and New Jersey, not middle class from South Whitehall." and finally "I would certainly downsize certain departments, such as community development. I believe until which time we upgrade the clientele, improved buildings provide little bang for the taxpayers’ buck" What a hypocrite. I am guess you are rethinking all those questions that you answered during your mayoral run in 2005! Once again, what hypocrite.


I am sure there is no way in hell you publish this and in a sense you own words.

michael molovinsky said...

dear future, the molovinskyformayor website is still up and linkable from this blog because i do not regret anything i said. i'm sorry that you're not used to my level of integrity. i still believe that allentown is a poverty magnet. i still believe that it's difficult to be self sustaining when you have conflicting policies that attract more poverty to the area. that said, i respect the rights and dignity of everybody who is here. i respect the merchants who realistically served the clientele as presented by the city. rather than dig back 7 years, trying to find a quote which you erroneously think will embarrass me, why not ask the merchants if they truly know me, and what they think of me.

Anonymous said...

Mike, Keep providing the accurate facts on the arena. You keep Future attacking you and not providing information to prove your facts you provide are inaccurate. Future must stay awake just waiting for what your blog reads. posted early and no doubt will be staying up late to respond to those that agree with you.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

So if I understand you correctly, you still believe Allentown's problem is low income transients from NY/NJ? You also still believe/support that gentrification is the answer to Hamilton St? You also support that we "upgrade the clientele" downtown? These are your words not mine. I believe an simple yes/no answer to each question would be sufficient.

michael molovinsky said...

ms. future, although demanded in a court of law, sometimes "simple yes or no" answers are not sufficient. your quote about low income transients was taken out of context. the morning call reporter, daryl nerl, on a phone in program, was obsessed that i moved into allentown proper to run for mayor. i replied that allentown's problem was low income transients from ny/nj, not middle class from south whitehall. the issue now is the burden this arena will place on the taxpayers of allentown. your answers yesterday on the bridges indicate an insiders knowledge of the city. it's telling that you choose to attempt to discredit my integrity, rather than address the differences in the arena numbers as detailed in this post.

Anonymous said...

Arena pain. What about the West End Cemetery. Folks around who worked in or near Corporate Plaza. Folly. Did you read the contract? Mayor gets five free days per year but he's gota bring his own hot chocolate and baked goods. Otherwise he pays just like everyone else. Hope Mrs. P. busy in the kitchen.

michael molovinsky said...

i have been informed that ms. future and a companion have taken to attack me in a morning call discussion on the new sinkhole

Anonymous said...

Agree this Future guy has no real job as he's here all the time.

Anonymous said...

Attacking you! Mrs. Arena cannot dispel the fact that Corporate Plaza sank. It's garage crumbled and its floors sank and lots of expensive furniture and belongings went with it. This city says it can protect the entire 7th Street corridor from sinkholes. Imagine what's going to happen if it fails. What kind of lawsuits and mockery to follow.

Anonymous said...

A correction: they place bets for us taxpayers that we neither want nor can afford."

Now the costs are $150M plus. Look at Route 222 expansion. How many millions was that over run. Wasn't the arena initially to cost $80M? Anyone know?

michael molovinsky said...

i do believe that buildings can be reasonably protected from sinkholes by new engineering techniques. furthermore, often an old water main breaks, erodes the limestone, causing the sinkhole. the city, as a legal strategy, says a sinkhole undermined the pipe, making it break. this was the case with corporate plaza; which came first, the pipe break or the sinkhole, was never determined.

Anonymous said...

If only a financial expert would explain how any money was lent to a project being built on a sink hole?
What about liability? Don't actuaries review such lending?

Anonymous said...

But MM, there's no guarantee other portions of downtown won't have watermain breaks that will filter into 7th Street or are we wrong about this? Thank you for your thoughts.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Oh MM.. your back is against the wall.. I asked you three questions that you said that you "still not regret". The funny part is that you wont answer them... in a yes/no format. Matter of fact you only addressed one of the questions. You call yourself a "non partisan catalyst for policy change in Allentown..." when the fact that is you are against any type of change.

Anonymous said...

ms. future and a companion ??
That is one person using several names pretending to have like opinions....
A conversation with herself.

Anonymous said...

FDAA -

Why should Molovinsky or anyone else be supportive of the type of change advocated by Ed Pawlowski?

Pawlowski's given us ten years of failure and deterioration and has a terrible track record when trying to pick winners and losers (which those in government shouldn't be doing).

You'd have to be an idiot to support anything Pawlowski touches.

Anonymous said...

Don't think anyone wishes this project to sink into the ground, but here's the question of the day after yesterday's sad events. Even with new construction techniques, aren't there old water mains everywhere in downtown?

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

oh another Challenge for MM on how much he is "On Allentown" I will be at PPL Plaza for the New Year drop of the bell. In this case their are multiple people so it will be easier for me to approach you. I suppose that you will be there at midnight since you are so "... On Allentown" and a past mayoral candidate. I so wish you will be there.

michael molovinsky said...

ms. future, my point of view is well known and i have often repeated it. i oppose the loft apartments because i believe that they will not attract their target upscale tenant, and just add more low income units and problems to center city. i believe that gentrification must be organic and based on demand, not induced by some city planner or subsidized developer playing with taxpayer money. you find it hypocritical that i think we have too many low income, but support the merchants who sell to them. i find it realistic. we have 50,000 plus low income in allentown. the former stores of hamilton street produced much more taxes than the proposed unrealistic upscale stores shown in pawlowski's and reilly's illustrations. pawlowski was director of the alliance for building communities, a low income housing agency, not me. i recognized the factors which created a poverty magnet in this town, and i now recognize the unrealistic taxpayer funded projects that seek to ignore our current realities. we should be improving our infrastructure and quality of life, and discouraging more housing. on the morning call website discussion you mock my results as a candidate for mayor, but fail to note that i ran as an independent. sorry to tell you, but my views have only gained credibility; that's why you're here, foaming at the mouth.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Oh MM, the guy who only got 3% of the vote is spinning his previous opinions harder then ever. No wonder he never got elected... received more than 3% of the total vote.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

You are hands down the biggest hypocritical person to never be elected. Everything you just said is completely opposite of what you said when you were running office. No wonder you only got 3% of the total vote. No one can take you serious.

michael molovinsky said...

ms. future, i just visited the morning call comment section on the website, and see that most of your comments about me have been removed, including your speculation on how many jewish votes i received. i don't know if you withdrew your comments, or if the newspaper removed them, but either way, the relevance of the sinkhole situation is that this administration puts our capital into a hockey arena, instead of the new infrastructure we desperately need.

Anonymous said...

3.0000001% - perhaps even more, who can say for sure.

Because the Main Stream Media failed to adequately cover Molovinsky fairly, I had no the man was even in the race to speak nothing of actual positions on actual issues.

I can say with certainty that taunting is not lady-like.

Anonymous said...

Any speculation as to when the next hole will open up?
Is it possible that all the heavy equipment, and digging, will be the cause of new fissures prematurely appearing?
How much more will this orgy of waste cost because all supports must pass through the limestone layer be anchored to bed rock?

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

The comments on the mcall are still there as of 10:06.. nothing is removed.

BTW did I miss where you said you are going to show up and support Allentown's 250th year on NYE? Or are you going to be like the Occupy Allentown people who are going to protest it and also sit down during the pledge of allegiance at council meetings.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that downtown areas in general, usually reflect the reality of the town demographics, and in particular, for a larger city, the demographic of the immediate neighborhood surrounding that downtown. In the halcyon days, Allentown's downtown thrived because the surrounding neighborhoods were populated with wage earning, middle class people. The department stores, specialty shops and services reflected this fact. Fast forward to today's Allentown. Without getting into the "why" of it, let's just admit that Allentown's downtown stores along 7th, 8th, and Hamilton Street reflect the reality that the city is poorer. Some posters may decry the fact that Allentown is a collection of pawn shops, second-hand thrift stores, urban wear clothing and convenience stores, but they exist to support the community Allentown has become over the last three decades. The question I have is - will replacing the blocks of pawn shops, second-hand thrift stores, urban wear clothing and convenience stores lead to there being a new, affluent clientele in the city? I think that's what the blindly optimistic are hoping for... I know of no example where this actually worked. I wish the optimists would cite examples.


VOR

michael molovinsky said...

future, i don't plan on being at the gala, i pretty much keep baker hours. my contributions to knowledge about the history of allentown are well known. your harping about me not living in allentown, getting 3% of the vote, not going to the gala, are boring. if your "future" comments further the discussion they will appear, otherwise, they will not.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,

Do you know whether for the new employees in the NIZ will the Earned Income Tax increase the City enacted go to pay for the arena and other buildings or to help pay for the pensions in the City?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 10:26, it's my understanding that all the earned income tax in the district goes toward the arena, except for approved private projects; ( so far reilly and butz) where the tax will go for their private debt service.

VOR's comment of 10:19 is right on point

i have not printed a comment received speculating on future's identity. future's comments do now seem to appear on the newspaper website. perhaps they were restored, or i went to the wrong article.

Anonymous said...

I am not FutureDowntownArenaAttendee, but I very much look forward to the completion of this arena.

While I'm not so idealistic as to think that it will completely transform downtown Allentown, I do think it's an attempt to draw people back to downtown Allentown...which is more than anyone else has done to Hamilton Street in sometime.

While I'm not a hockey fan, I will probably get a season ticket package as it is a nice night out. I've done the same with the IronPigs, and we very much look forward to our games and have upgraded to an 18 game plan for this season.

I look forward to draws from bigger music artists than what we currently get at Croc Rock.

I think it's a great way to draw schools into the city also. Having district and state athletic competitions and/or graduations there would be a great way to utilize the arena.

These are my two cents.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 10:46, understand that there were plenty of "people" on the 700 block of hamilton street, as i documented about the success of Family Dollar. which "people" allentown prefers is another matter. with events projected for only 120 days out of 365, and almost all at night, hamilton street will have much less people than before.

michael molovinsky said...

future has cut and pasted his comments on the morning call to jon geetings post on the NIZ, including his "jewish vote conclusion". actually those votes were cast at the polling place in the allen high gym, by muhlenberg students, who were offended that i was excluded from the debate held at the college.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has a right to voice opinions regarding any subject, via blogs, etc regardless if they live in a particular geographical area or not. The very fact that this blog receives such attention and comments indicates that this issue has touched a nerve with individual readers, both pro and con. Mr. M has taken the time to learn more about what is going on in Allentown, regardless of his present address than many current residents of Allentown proper. Mostly everyone wants a prosperous, vibrant, safe residence, and people propose varying ways of attaining such an enviornment. Only time will tell which vision was the correct path taken. Certainly the WPA projects have survived, for the most part without maintenance, however that cant be said for more of the modern structures, such as the Sovereign building. Hindsight is 100 per cent accurate. Good luck and peace, Allentown 2012.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Mike is serving in a role previously held by the community's newspaper. I value that.

Unfortunately, Allentown's demographic allows its residents to be steamrolled. This is VERY BIG taxpayer investment made by a small cadre of power players on behalf of a largely helpless citizenry.

This project deserved LOTS of scrutiny and, to me, public referendum. That didn't happen. It's now too late.

In the end, I fully expect this building to create a drain on Allentown property taxes for years to come. I owned two properties in Allentown, but no longer.

FDAA's personal attacks do not help her case. Better would be examples of medium sized cities who flourished after building similar-sized venues.

But, what do I know? Like the Brooks Group and the project's developer, I don't live in Allentown, so my opinion doesn't count.

Anonymous said...

"Retired ASD teacher here."
Not only DO your opinions matter, your post accurately describes nearly all of the issues that many of us are angry about.
This is NOT a government representing the views of it's citizens.
We citizens are being victimized by a small, evil cabal.

Anonymous said...

Since the proponents fail to offer examples of successful downtown arenas in mid-sized eastern cities, I will start us off.

Trenton NJ population 90,000 built an 8500 seat arena a few years back. It is located in the heart of the city and it offers convenient surface parking for 3,500 within walking distance. The Trenton "Sun Center" as it is presently known cost (I believe) about $50 million. BTW- Trenton is routinely called one of the most dangerous cities per capita in the USA. Last count, 31 homicides in a calendar year.

Speaking of calendars, I invite you to chech the arena website. You can look at the monthy schedule of events there. This is actually from the website.

2012

January

8- Disney On Ice events
4- AHL Hockey events
3- Monster truck Jams
1- HS Basketball tornament (One-day)
1- Cheerleaders Competition (One-day)

There are 18 open datys where nothing is scheduled!

I'll spare the details for February and March, but please know that there are 17 open days in February and 21 in March!

I will remind all that hockey is a winter sport, and as such must be considered the main attraction at an arena of this sort.

So on the surface, we have a less expensive arena, with an AHL tenant in the heart of a dangerous eastern mid-sized city and it probably in not even built on a sink hole, and the best they can do is have a calendar (three months in the heart of hockey season) with 56 open dates! Apparently, at least in the New Jersey capital city, musicians schedule concerts elsewhere, or maybe just not in the winter.

That does not leave me exactly breathless with optimism and or enthusiasm. Let's all remember that within 10 miles, there are numerous establish music venues.

VOR

Anonymous said...

Redaing has a Soveriegn Center (arena) on Penn Street, which is pretty much what is being planned for downtown Allenton. They also have a venue on Sixth Street for music/concerts/etc. For this January-February, the arena has some hockey, the usual Disnet Ice program shows, "Ice Racing" and one music concert. I notice that any music in is this other venue, which may be their version of a State Theater. Again, I am struck by how little hockey is actually played in these places! By all means, check the websites.

In Wilkes Barre, (a more suburban locale) their arena is well-booked with AHL hockey, Disney Ice but ZERO music!

VOR

ironpigpen said...

How is this for positive? --- The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks B-league indoor arena football team that currently plays at Lehigh University's Stabler Arena would probably love to do their thing at the Pawlowski Palace of Sport.

I fear that I just don't know very much about this particular kind of football.

Would that be filed under real or imaginary Gentrification, Mr. Molovinsky?

Anonymous said...

The Trenton example is telling. It is the CAPITOL city of one of the most populous states in the union...and it can't book enough events to make it viable. 40 Phantoms home games over a roughly 6-month schedule means just a handful of games per month.
Stabler Arean's got out of the concert business because the greater Lehigh Valley just doesn't go in the numbers (6,000 to 8,000 seats) that it and the new arena must fill. REAL hockey fans will watch the Flyers on TV rather than pay $20 per ticket for some minor leaguers. REAL REAL hockey fans buy the NHL ticket on cable or the bird in the sky. Did mayor P get guarantees that only Allentown residents will work at the arena? Probably not legal, but since when did this stop him? So many reasons this just won't fly.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

I continue to believe this project's Achille's heel will be its reliance on enclosed deck parking. In time, that will prove to be a real turn-off.

The city will need to level additional buildings to free up more surface parking within reasonable walking distance.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Retired ASD teacher...

I recommend that you read the traffic and parking analysis that were conducting by a highly respected firm before you make outrageous statements. Oh and these studies were conducted all the way back in May.

I am posting the links to both of those studies.

Parking
http://www.allentownpa.gov/Portals/0/files/2011-05-31%20Allentown%20Arena%20Parking%20Analysis.pdf

Traffic
http://www.allentownpa.gov/Portals/0/files/2011-05-31%20Allentown%20Arena%20Traffic%20Analysis.pdf

michael molovinsky said...

ms. future, for links, comments must have the html tag.

all similar sized cities which built underperforming event centers had analysis to justify the construction; it's what the bureaucratic mind does. meanwhile, back to the place called reality; what happen to johnny manana? why are sangria and the cosmopolitan failing? one square block, in the center of the city, will be closed everyday of the year, and two thirds of the nights.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

You claim things are "failing", prove it! And by saying you heard it from someone who told someone who in return told you is not proof. Provide documentation. I have provided document and now it is your turn. Give us and your following concrete information behind what I believe is your speculation.

michael molovinsky said...

future, first off, let me clarify something. i don't wish for the failure of any establishment. they all represent significant investment and hard work. on the other hand, wishing for success unfortunately doesn't make it so. i driven by sangria too often when it was practically empty. i received reports on the same situation at the cosmopolitan. empty tables speak for themselves. likewise, i hope the arena succeeds, so that the business district wasn't sacrificed for naught. time will tell, not you and the double talking officials. if the property taxes need to be tapped for the debt service, that will be first indication of failure.

Anonymous said...

Did any body read those links?
How much did those useless loads of crap cost?
It was written and directed by the same bunch touting this sham scam.
oh and proof that the current spate of propped up restaurants are failing?
Just drive by. any time.
Those of us living within sight of these establishments don't believe any BS Allentown city propaganda about phony great successes.
And the traffic report?
Just more biased and very likely false conclusions.

Anonymous said...

A study promoting many more studies tends to prove that no real analysis has been attempted.
Just more promotional puff from the fine folks cramming this arena down our throats.
>>>>>
RECOMMENDATIONS
Based upon this Traffic Analysis, Traffic Planning and Design Inc. (TPD) offers the following recommendations:
1. Evaluate and update the coordinated signal system to optimize the signal timings in conjunction with the anticipated increase in traffic volumes. The study should include all traffic signals on 6th Street, 7th Street, and 8th Street from Union Street to Greenleaf Street, and all signals on Linden Street and Hamilton Street from 4th Street to 15th Street. Adjacent intersections on Walnut Street and Turner Street should also be evaluated.
2. Utilize wayfinding signage to direct motorists to the arena from all major approach routes, including Route 22, Interstate 78, and Route 309. Within the immediate vicinity of the arena, signage should direct motorists to the appropriate parking facilities. Signs directing motorists to Route 22, Interstate 78, and Interstate 476 should be posted to guide exiting traffic.
3. Provide pedestrian oriented wayfinding signage indicating the location of the arena and other downtown attractions at all public parking decks and other key locations throughout the study area.
4. Install a Parking Guidance and Information System, which would utilize variable message signs to indicate the number of available parking spaces in each public parking deck on a real-time basis to motorists approaching the study area on southbound 7th Street and eastbound Hamilton Street.
5. Prepare an event management plan for events at the proposed arena. Event staff may utilize traffic cones, auxiliary signage, and flagging to efficiently guide traffic to event parking.
6. Evaluate the impact of removing pedestrian-only signal phases at critical study area intersections. The effect on vehicular traffic and on pedestrian safety should be considered.
7. At capacity-constrained intersections, a peak-hour parking restriction may be implemented for a given block or blocks in order to provide an additional travel lane. Because of the resulting loss of on-street parking, the costs and benefits should be further evaluated.
8. Additional capacity analysis should be performed to evaluate the traffic conditions during the hour following the end of an event at the arena. Although traffic volumes on the adjacent roadway network are expected to be significantly lower during this late-night peak hour, the intersections adjacent to the public parking decks may require a special timing plan to facilitate efficient egress from the site.
9. Conduct a post-development study following the completion of Milestones A and B to confirm that no further roadway improvements are needed in the study area.

Anonymous said...

FDAA -

The parking "analysis" counted parking lots from as far away as Eleventh street. Other lots on a similar radius were also included.

In addition, one of the larger lots included in the study that was actually close to the arena was on the site of the Reilly building that is proposed.

There was no doubt that the city and its consultants would find there was sufficient parking for the arena. In fact, this is one of the major problems with city involvement in the project. Instead of impartially looking at the plan and enforcing zoning laws, the city is now in a position to approve plans it helped develop.

That is not the way it's supposed to work, and it doesn't happen in a well-run city.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

FDAA, I have read the parking report. The overall plan is approximately two-thirds deck parking to one third surface parking. I contend that ratio is troublesome.

What the study can't determine is
human preferences and behavior. Exiting from a deck (collectively) at the conclusion of a sports or concert event is much more challenging than what one would experience throughout the day.

You will also notice, the study emphasizes providing shuttle bus services, another option that requires additional restriction upon patrons.

Finally, the report's last statement:


"Conduct a post-development parking analysis following the completion of Milestones A and B to evaluate the existing and proposed parking supplied to determine if the downtown parking supply meets the parking demand of the multi-use development."

Seems to me, the study group leaves the door open to the reality of shortcomings discovered through actual patron behavior. Obviously, neither one of us can say with certainty, BEFORE the first event is staged, the written analysis will prove accurate and positive.

We'll just have to revisit this discussion in a year, or so.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:31 is spot on with what sort of competition the Phantoms are dealing with from the clear minority of people who actually like ice hockey here in the United States.

Super, super hardcore hockey fans also know that they can watch the Kontinental Hockey League from Russia, which has been throwing serious money at players in the last few years (current Flyer JAROMIR JAGR just spent three years in Omsk) in an effort to compete with the NHL for world supremacy, via streaming satellite link for free.

Personally, I am currently enjoying the traditional post-Christmas SPENGLER CUP international tournament from Switzerland via streaming satellite at no cost.

FDAA and her ilk need to get to work explaining to me where I want to spend my hard-earned money and why.

VIKTOR TIKHONOV

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried to leave the parking deck near State Theatre after a performance? And that truly great venue seats only about 1,500 patrons. Now let's assume (dream?) that the Pawlowski Palace is filled with 10,000 souls (can one refer to souls or will the anti-religion police step in here?) It'll take an hour or more just to exit the neighborhood. So here we go: 7 p.m. game ends at 10 p.m.; get to your car at 10:30 p.m.; get out of parking deck at 11:30 p.m.; home by midnight or later...........on a fall/winter school and/or work night. Not good!

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Ask Bethlehem Township what their $15 million over budgeted community center is now costing the taxpayers. The City will never ever break even. They can't hold enough Gun Shows and other novelty events to even come close to the promises that were made. In this economy or any other economy for that matter, the government getting involved in these sketchy investments is simply wrong. This could be the straw that breaks the camels (Allentown's) back.

ironpigpen said...

"the government getting involved in these sketchy investments"

Well, I must say ... at least we're not talking SOLYNDRA-type money.

Plus, maybe President Obama will come drop a ceremonial puck and then sign autographs at the Brewworks afterwards.

How is this for positive thinking?

Anonymous said...

A reality check about competition for musical acts: (From ET, Sept)

"A partnership with major concert promoter Live Nation will bring upward of 185 annual events to the new Sands Bethlehem Event Center, officials said today.

Vision Entertainment Group, the company behind Steel Ice Center in Bethlehem, will be the operator of the 50,000-square-foot facility. Conventions will be booked through Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, the other partner in the facility expected to open in May.

Sands was originally going to do the events center itself. Originally intended to open alongside the casino in May 2009, the economic recession halted construction on the events center in October 2008.

In the meantime, Vision Entertainment Group was working on plans itself to bring a major concert venue to the Lehigh Valley. Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan in February 2010 convinced Sands and Vision to start working together on a shared events center."

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

ANON 4:24

Here is a reality check for you. The events center will hold a max of 3,500 when in a standing room only configuration. The Arena will hold 10,000 for concerts. That is just shy of 3x of the max capacity for the events center.

Don't get me wrong at all, I fully support and am excited for the events center to be built. However there are acts that can only fill 3,500 and there are acts that can fill 10,000. They are two different levels.

For example the Borgata event center is equivalent to the Sands event center in size and hosts some great acts, but they are acts that are not suitable for larger arenas such as the Allentown Arena. Either way it is a win/win situation for the whole Lehigh Valley. In the past 5 years the Valley has seen so much entertainment growth it is mind boggling to those who grew up here. The Sands, Coca-Cola Park, SteelStacks, The Promenade, Allentown Arena etc....and I believe this is just the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Dear FutureDowntownArenaAttendee:

What say you about the previous comment regarding the Trenton arena and the rather lackluster scheduling of events, including hockey and a serious dearth of music concerts?

I think the gist of other posts has been to point out that in the immediate LV area (and you seem to agree) there are numerous sites where there will be considerable competition to attract musical acts. The Trenton arean is of similar size as the one proposed in A-Town, as is the one in Reading. I appreciate the fact that someone has gone so far as to compare similar sites. Where are all of these musical acts going? Are they just waiting so they can play Allentown? Very few people are breathless, waiting for Monster Truck, Cheerleading and cheese judging competitions.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Trenton is a horrible example. The arena only seats 7,605 for hockey and 8,500 for concerts and they only host an ECHL team. That is one step down from the Phantoms and two from the Flyers. Secondly, Trenton and its surrounding area is a suburb of Philadelphia with distance between the two arenas being 37.2 miles away. No way does an act play Philly one night and drive 37 miles. The comparisons between Trenton and Reading are fair, high crime low density locations that have other and more attractive locations nearby. In Readings case it has the Giant Center in Hershey. Also to compare crime in Trenton is not fair, Trenton has 34,000 less residents but 3 times the number of homicides than Allentown.

Anonymous said...

And the Plot Thickens:

JB Reilly "steps down" as Chairman of LV Medical yesterday.. after
LV Medical agrees to lucrative marketing deal with Phantoms
LV Medical Signs Letter of intent to lease as Anchor Tenant in Reilly's office project adjacent to Arena
LV Medical Signs LOI to construct Sports Medicine Facility tied to Arena Project
Isn't it sweet enough that up to 50% of Reilly's project loans are being paid through NIV tax deferrals? Did he intend to have LV Medical pay the other 50% by providing funds to Phantoms and with lease dollars??

Anonymous said...

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...


"Trenton is a horrible example. The arena only seats 7,605 for hockey and 8,500 for concerts and they only host an ECHL team."

OK, maybe you're right, but then you seem to be saying that Trenton Arena musical events are different than Philly Arena events. I get that. The next question has more to do with "then why are there no appropriately-sized musical events in Trenton's downtown arena?" It looks to the untrained eye that musical events just will not be sustainable in these small to medium arenas in the long run. Eventually, that relity settles in and your small-medium downtown arena reveals itself to be of limited appeal. Whether it is the crime issue, the parking/traffic issue or the fact that competition for the music concert attendee's dollars is mighty tight, I think the Allentown downtown arena may eventually become what Reading and Trenton have become- an expensive, taxpayer-subsidized gym, utilized only a fraction of the time promised by the sellers of this scheme. The Phantoms with have a nice playpen for sure, but throngs of concert-goers dining at the Cosmopolitan, Johnny Mananas, or any other restaurant before or after an event...that's a pipe dream, I'm afraid.


VOR

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

I think that a good comparison to what is being built downtown is the new downtown arena in Evansville, IN.

Allentown and Evansville share many comparisons, size being one of them. They just completed an downtown arena this past fall.... oh and they used a TIF as well.

http://www.evansvillearenaproject.com/

Anonymous said...

Dear Attendee:

Very interesting, your comparison with Evansville. I suppose that you base the comparison mainly upon city population, since they are about even there.

Where they are not even is crime stats - - (http://evansville.areaconnect.com/crime/compare.htm?c1=Evansville&s1=IN&c2=allentown&s2=PA)

Evansville is 87 % white, is home to two large universities, was judged as "Most Livable City" by Kipplingers in 2008 and then 11th in 2009, and it hosts riverboat gambling. Other than that, you're correct about the two cities being peas in a pod.

I'd say that a homicide rate 4X Evansville's, a robbery rate 4 X Evansville's, and assault, burglary and auto theft rates much higher that that Indiana city somewhat separates Allentown, but that's just my interpretation.

Any discussion revolving around eventual long-tern success of this arena must take into account these stats, along with parking, etc...


VOR

michael molovinsky said...

i thought the trenton stats were very close. that 1000 seat difference doesn't matter, because the phantoms probably will never reach capacity crowd anyway, based on their current attendance.

Anonymous said...

Mike-

One major flaw in all of this is the dream that the "anchor" tenant, the Phantoms will somehow be the key ingredient to eventual success for the arena, which will lead to spin off success elsewhere in the downtown. One holes are punched in that premise, the idea loses luster. A hockey season runs what, 4-5 months? Only one half of the games are scheduled at home. We showed earlier how many holes that leaves in the event calendar. So schedule Disney Ice, Monster Truck jams, Roller Derby, cheer leading competitions...I only left out musical concerts because I see no evidence that other similarly-sized arenas fill their enormous voids with the kind of head turning, "oh boy" concerts that have been eluding us thusfar. I fear that there are two classes of arenas, the 18,000 + seat arenas, and all the others. The big boys attract the big acts. I'm afraid all the others are relegated to second-tier status. Second-tier acts are just that...oldies acts, up and comers, never weres, but certainly not today's big acts.

Maybe Allen and Dieruff will schedule comencement. Maybe some of the events now held in the Ag Hall will be diverted...Don't hold your breath for bigtime music/entertainment.

The few posters who champion this arena have yet to admit that there are serious concerns which will likely impact upon attendance such as Allentown's unacceptably high crime rate, the parking issue and whatever else we have laid out.

VOR

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

VOR, You can't just look at the city of Evansville soley, you have to look at the MSA. The MSA of the LV is 820,000 compared to 350,000. More than double of a population base to draw from. Also to say that Allentown homocide rate is 4x higher is a little out of context. The difference between 9 and 2.25 is a huge difference than 9 to 31.

MM, There is no way that you can say that the attendance is going to be because of what is happening in Adirondack. First they play in a small and very outdated convention center. Also the audience there knows that it is a temporary stop and are not investing in the team. Adirondack had a team before but lost it because of lack of support. Finally, why dont you look at Hershey and Scranton, both extremely successful programs, especially Hershey who leads the league in attendance every year.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

VOR

The parking is not an issue at all.. there is more established parking in a closer distance to the arena site that to Coca-Cola park. Read the study.

The crime rate in Allentown while elevated is dropping quickly. The stats don't lie. Crime is down over 30% in the past years and that doesn't include 2011 numbers yet. Also last year the city had 9 homicides and if it was not for a crazy last 9 days of the year it would only have had 5. I realize you cant take those 4 off the board but it does reflect that crime is dropping.

michael molovinsky said...

future, i'll address your parking comment in a future post. although i will put up your comments so that you and VOR may dialogue here, i don't think too many other readers come this far back to posts. early sunday i will most likely put up a post where arena related comments are appropriate and more timely.

Anonymous said...

Fdaa.
Homocide?? really?
All this phony baloney and you can't even spell.
And Michael, we do read older posts.Thank you.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

You have to be kidding? That is your contribution to the discussion? Pointing out that I fat fingered the letter next to the "I"?

But you forgot to point out that it was spelled in future postings...