Music to chime again in Pittsburgh’s old Civic Arena


Pittsburgh Penguins new music venue Image: Pittsburgh Penguins

A new music venue is coming to the site of the old Civic Arena property. The Civic Arena, formerly the Civic Auditorium and later Mellon Arena, was an arena located in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in US. The Civic Arena primarily served as the home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the city’s National Hockey League (NHL) franchise, from 1967 to 2010 before it closed down on June 26, 2010.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Live Nation Entertainment are joining hands to build a 6,600-seat performance space at the intersection of Wylie Avenue and Logan Street. Thousands of concerts were once held at the site of the old Civic Arena property. Groundbreaking is expected this summer, with an anticipated opening in 2022.

Construction is set to kick off this Fall with 250 units of rental housing. The former Civic Arena site is located near PPG Paints Arena, the Penguins’ current home, which opened in 2010.

The Pittsburgh Penguins (colloquially known as the Pens) are a professional ice hockey team based in Pittsburgh. They compete in the National Hockey League (NHL).

U.S. Live Nation Entertainment is an American global entertainment company, founded in 2010, following the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. It also owns and operates entertainment venues, and manages the careers of music artistes.

The venue will be built atop an underground parking garage which can accommodate 850 cars. Much like the smaller Stage AE on the North Shore, it will boast an indoor club area and an outdoor amphitheater lawn.

“There will not be another venue like this in the region, and we expect it will become the entertainment anchor for the Lower Hill, drive significant business to nearby restaurants and contribute to the rich fabric of live music in Pittsburgh,” Penguins CEO David Morehouse said in a statement.

The Pens stated that the facility will be akin to the Anthem (a music venue and auditorium in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood) of Washington, D.C., and the Toyota Music Factory (a world class entertainment destination) in Irving, Texas. These two entertainment venues are anchors of mixed-use developments with the former having a capacity of 6,000 and the latter 8,000. Live Nation has made a 20-year commitment to run the venue which will feature a seating area for club and theater performances, as part of a 20-year deal.

“There is no better location for us and we could not have asked for better partners than we have with the Penguins,” asserted Tom Loudermilk, Live Nation Pittsburgh President, in a statement.

“Ever since we established our full-time office in Pittsburgh, we’ve been focused on adding a music venue within the urban core of the city. We believe this venue will complement the existing set of venues throughout the market to further enhance the live music experience for all fans,” added Loudermilk.

“There will not be another venue like this in the region, and we expect it will become the entertainment anchor for the Lower Hill, drive significant business to nearby restaurants and contribute to the rich fabric of live music in Pittsburgh,” Penguins Chief Executive David Morehouse said in a statement.

Plans are also in the works for the former Civic Arena site to incorporate new residential and office space, entertainment and food venues, retail parks and green space. Development rights to the site are owned by the Penguins.

It is hoped the arena will be similar to The Anthem in Washington D.C., and the Toyota Music Factory in Irving, Texas, which can seat up to 6,000 and 8,000 people, respectively.

The project will include more than 50,000 square feet of retail space along Wylie Avenue – 17,000 square feet on the ground level and another 34,000 square feet on the second and third floors.

The latest development to be proposed for the 28-acre arena site is the music venue which will enjoy a mix of residential, commercial and office space, entertainment and food venues, retail and parks and green space.

The largest addition to the site will be a 24-story office building. The First National Bank plans to move its headquarters from the North Shore to the new skyscraper.

The Civic Arena – the building with the retractable roof – closed in 2010 and was demolished by 2012. But, following an announcement from Live Nation Entertainment, music will soon be heard in Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and development partner The Buccini/Pollin Group stated in a press release that Live Nation intends to anchor a 90,000-square-foot live entertainment venue on the 28-acre site.

The venue is expected to fill a gap for midsized live music venues in Pittsburgh, and enable the city to attract acts who find a “suitable midsized venue” lacking, the release further stated.

The press statement further informed that the project will increase parking capacity and provide more than $400,000 annually in city amusement taxes.

The project also is expected to produce approximately $5.3 million in Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance benefits that the development invests in the Greater Hill Reinvestment Fund.

As part of the music venue development agreement, the Penguins and Buccini/Pollin Group will build a new public safety building, estimated at $1.2 million, on the parking garage’s Bedford Avenue side, to relocate Rescue 2 and EMS 14.

The hockey team owns the site’s development rights. “It’s the first time that the Penguins development team has actually advanced development on the site. This is going to be hard. This is going to be a multiyear process. This is the first time that you’ve ever seen this level of development in the Lower Hill District,” opined Kevin Acklin, the hockey team’s general counsel, in October last year when the Pens announced tentative plans for building an arena.

The venue’s design will feature a “three-in-one” concept. Operators anticipate the venue to be in use for more than 200 nights a year between ticketed shows and corporate events.

The Penguins are in talks with the local entertainment operators about establishing adjacent intimate jazz and live entertainment concepts along Wylie Avenue.

As part of an overall $1 billion private investment in the Lower Hill, the music venue and public parking garage $120 million mixed-use development on a 2.5-acre site.

Project plans also include: 17,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space, including more than 1,200 square feet fronting Wylie Avenue provided at no cost for the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Catapult Program; up to 34,000 square feet of second and third floor retail space along Wylie Avenue; and 285,000 square feet of public parking garage.

“Live Nation’s 20-year commitment to this project will serve as the second entertainment anchor, along with PPG Paints Arena, and bring this transformational project one step closer to fulfilling its vision,” said Buccini/Pollin Group Co-President Chris Buccini.

The project “will complement the recently announced FNB Tower”, and create demand for additional retail and entertainment development, BPG Vice-President of Development Boris Kaplan added in the statement.

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