Aug 12, 2014

Rethinking Allentown's Arena

I have previously stated on this blog that Allentown's arena could quickly become a white elephant. Recent observations cause me to hedge on that prediction. I suspect that the recent success of both the soccer World Cup and Musikfest in Bethlehem,  result somewhat from the need for catharsis from the malaise of our times. People traveling long distances with $3.60 per gallon gasoline, to work for minimal wages, creates a need for local escape. If the arena can provide a steady diet of affordable entertainment, it may well thrive in these troubling times. All three of the valley cities are suffering from too much violence and gunfire. This gangsta mentality has victimized most urban cores. With some luck and pro- active policing, hopefully,  center city's perception will be safe enough to not dampen arena attendance.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The arena itself is a potential physical asset for the Lehigh Valley as there are no other indoor venues of that size here. Whether it becomes an economic asset is dependent on market conditions. The Phantoms should draw well for at least a few seasons. As an occasional paying AHL fan in Wilkes Barre and Hershey I however find the large decrease in actual attendance at the Wilkes Barre Penguins games in the past few seasons something that should concern the Phantoms in the longer run. The Penguins team has been a much better competitor on the ice than the Phantoms over many seasons but their steady sell out crowds in Wilkes Barre seem to be a thing of the past. Beyond hockey games I am not sure how many concerts and shows a year must be successful for the arena to be self sustaining. There is already heavy competition for the entertainment dollar in the Lehigh Valley with the Sands Event Center apparently finding the right formula for attracting nationally known talent in numbers that fill their much smaller venue and meet the financial goals of the facility ownership. If the Allentown arena can find a niche that draws paying spectators in numbers that allow the facility to at least break even it will succeed in itself. It will also be a valuable regional asset if it does so without negatively impacting the other existing Lehigh Valley entertainment venues. If however the arena gets customers by drawing people in significant numbers away from other existing Lehigh Valley venues there will be little net gain for the region. The worst case would be that the Allentown arena saturates the market place to the extent that it and other venues such as Arts Quest and the State Theater face serious attendance issues affecting their sustainabilty. All of these venues need paying customers with expendable income to be successful. If they can compliment each other it is a win-win for everyone. If however they become fierce competitors for the same customer dollar it will be a real grind for some or all to survive.

michael molovinsky said...

@2:12, entertainment wise, it's success with smaller acts will be at the expense of other venues. at least two of the acts scheduled for the fall had previously played stabler. i suspect that the sands subsidizes the operators of it's venue for some of the acts coming there, which normally play bigger venues. their payback is after the show, in the casino.

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine what it will be like trying to get in and out of Allentown if you work, party or go to roller rink events. One LVHN employee I know, who recently moved to the arena building did a dry run at "rush hour" prior to the move, to see how long it took to get to 22. Only twenty minutes. Can you imagine that trip if there is an event occurring concurrently. And 7th St. A resourceful person could peddle snacks and water to the masses as they wait bumper to bumper to get to Allentown. leave early and don't be late.

michael molovinsky said...

@4:51, allentown is installing smart stop lights with cameras which will regulate the stop lights based on demand. what i see as more problematic is the current lack of parking. i've been told, off the record, that it's been so long since allentown had traffic and parking issues, that they problems that the city hopes to have.

Julian Kern said...

Allentown already has parking and traffic issues. They say there is enough parking but I am not sure on that as it is hard already at times to find parking. Traffic is already backing up on 7th St. The Hamilton Kitchen & Bar is partly to blame as they have valet parking on Hamilton St. and it is causing back ups on 7th St since there is only one lane to turn left onto Hamtilon from 7th st.

Anonymous said...

I hope their hope and a dream come to fruition. If it does not, the fallout could be horrendous.

Dreaming of Justice said...

It's already built, so you are not really hedging your opinion..it's just being pragmatic. All we can hope to do is try and bear up under the parking and increased chaos. It is not the same, but I can compare this scenario to a well-planned and well-thought out example in Baltimore at Camden Yards. Much thought, time, and expert traffic planning was spent before ground was broken on the enormous complex (which now includes Ravens Stadium). Although the complex is sucessfull and sold out routinely season to season, nobody would try and claim that parking is not "an issue" or that "smart traffic lights" would ease the immense flow of cars and pedestrians who are finding their way to side street parking many blocks away. It is a matter of TOO many cars and people- even for a large city like Baltimore. Granted, this arena (as hideous as it looks) is smaller. I remain angry about the lack of job opportunities it brings with it's construction, and the destruction / disruption of the ethnic neighborhoods that has occurred.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:49, i'm not sure that there would be much fallout.i believe that the restaurants are being subsidized before they even open. the entire project is underwritten by pennsylvania taxpayers, who for the most part were left in the dark about the financing. what do the residents in our smaller towns get for their state taxes?

dreaming@10:27, it's a modern coliseum, a distraction to entertain the underemployed.

doug_b said...

Entertainment has no real value. It produces nothing. All it does is transfer money from one person to another.

Not the basis for a real economy.

Anonymous said...

The traffic will be unbearable. Good luck arena attendees

Anonymous said...

Fallout - at the first hint of distress it will be the first in first out (fifo) phenomenon. The original developers will take their money and run. The only way developers will be able to increase their residential margin outside the commercial zone is to buy properties en masse, raise, and redevelop to luxury standards. And I wonder how many restaurants they will be able to support? Went to Billy' and was not impressed.