PPL Center at night
|Location||Corner of Hamilton and 7th St, Allentown, Pennsylvania 18102|
|Broke ground||January 3, 2012 (site demolition)|
November 29, 2012 (official)
|Opened||September 10, 2014|
|Owner||City of Allentown|
|Construction cost||$177 million (Estimated)|
|Architect||Sink Combs Dethlefs|
Elkus Manfredi Architects
|Project Manager||Hammes Company Sports Development, Inc.|
|Structural engineer||Martin/Martin, Inc.|
|Services engineer||H. T. Lyons, Inc.|
|General Contractor||Alvin H. Butz Jr.|
|Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) (2014-present)|
Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (PIFL) (2015-future)
PPL Center is a sports arena in Allentown, Pennsylvania that opened on September 10, 2014. Its naming rights are owned by the PPL Corporation, which is headquartered in Allentown. PPL paid an undisclosed sum over ten years.
The arena is part of a larger redevelopment project of the central business district of Allentown. The project encompasses a 5-acre square square block area, in which several new structures are planned to be erected: Part of the arena site was previously developed in the 1990s as an office building called Corporate Plaza; shortly after opening, on February 23, 1994, it collapsed into a sinkhole, due to limestone in the ground and the decision not place the building on a concrete pad, but rather on spread footings; the plaza was imploded on March 19 of that year. Inside the arena will be a new ground-floor studio that will house WFMZ-TV's news operation.
Competition on building sites
Rebuilding an arena on the site of the Spectrum in Philadelphia was rejected in favor of the more profitable Xfinity Live! project and a new 180 Renaissance by Marriott room hotel. The competition to build a new arena for the Phantoms in 2008 was primarily between Allentown and Camden, New Jersey. While Camden was closer, Allentown had a more elaborate proposal which helped secure Allentown's bid for the team.
Plans to build the PPL Center at the corner of 7th and Hamilton Streets in downtown Allentown were announced in late 2009. For much of 2009 and 2010, the focus of the project was on securing funding. The project took a major leap forward when in 2011, several properties were purchased by the city to help clear the way for the project to begin. By the end of January 2012, all of the properties had been purchased with final demolition of all buildings occurring in early February 2012.
On May 31, 2011 a comprehensive parking analysis conducted by Traffic Planning and Design, Inc. (TPD) was submitted to Allentown Economic Development Corporation. The conclusion that was reached is that the total number of parking spaces within the study area, between the public and private parking garages and surface lots consist of approximately 7,376 parking spaces. As a result of this parking analysis, the existing public and private parking facilities and proposed construction of an additional 500 parking spaces to be built with this development, will adequately accommodate the highest peak period parking demands of the proposed Allentown Arena and mixed-used development. In comparison Coca-Cola Park in the East side has 2,500 parking spots available.
Also on May 31, 2011 a comprehensive traffic analysis conducted by Traffic Planning and Design, Inc. (TPD) was submitted to Allentown Economic Development Corporation. Based upon this Traffic Analysis, it is TPD's opinion that the existing roadway infrastructure can accommodate the new traffic generated by the proposed development. Conditions will be further improved with the recommended improvements.
Some concern about the PPL Center is centered on the cost of the arena relative to the cost of other dedicated American Hockey League arenas in the country. Nathan Benefield, the director of Public Analysis for The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Alternatives, a Pennsylvania free-market think tank which opposes public funding of stadiums, believes that the PPL Center benefited from funding a plan with no cap on public money beyond the annual revenue generated by the zone. As of October 2012 $224.3 million in bonds have been sold.
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- "Phantoms, Allentown Formally Launch Arena Construction", November 29, 2012. Retrieved on January 31, 2013.
- "Arena Opens, Symbol of Hope for a Better Allentown", September 10, 2014. Retrieved on September 12, 2014.
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- McEvoy, Colin. "Allentown Hockey Arena Will Be Named PPL Center", February 21, 2013. Retrieved on February 27, 2013. Cite error: Invalid
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- , WFMZ-TV.
- Blockus, Gary R.. "Faceoff for Minor League Hockey Team?", September 6, 2008. Retrieved on August 17, 2012.
- Parking Analysis. City of Allentown (May 31, 2011). Retrieved on November 1, 2013.
- A to Z Guide. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (November 22, 2010). Retrieved on November 1, 2013.
- Master Plan Traffic Analysis. City of Allentown (May 31, 2011). Retrieved on November 1, 2013.
- "Allentown Hockey Arena Costs Adding Up", February 4, 2012. Retrieved on August 17, 2012.
- Kraus, Scott. "Arena on Track to Rise in Fall With Pennsylvania Steel", July 11, 2012. Retrieved on August 17, 2012.
- Panepinto, Peter. "Allentown Completes Bond Sales, Receives Funding for Hockey Arena Project", October 2, 2012. Retrieved on October 2, 2012.
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