After years of frustration and heavy anticipation for hockey fans in Allentown, Pennsylvania, it was made official on January 11, 2011 the Adirondack Phantoms are moving to Allentown. The Phantoms of the American Hockey League who were once housed in Philadelphia will soon hit the road again after the 2012-13 hockey season. Prior to the Wachovia Spectrum getting demolished, in 2009 the Brooks Group bought the Phantoms’ franchise with their eyes immediately set on a new home in Allentown.
Allentown is located about 75 minutes north of Philadelphia and already houses the Triple-A baseball team for the Philadelphia Phillies. Although the news brings joy to many hockey fans, citizens throughout the Lehigh Valley scratch their heads in where the facility is being located. The location of the hockey arena will be in the heart of center city Allentown. A section of the city that has a high amount of crime and violence.
One of the many things that makes Philadelphia one of the best sport-cities in the country is the location on their arenas. The Wells Fargo Center, Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park are all within walking distance of each other creating one of the world’s best sporting complex. With the brand-new Coca-Cola Park recently opened in 2008 and a hockey team soon on its way, it opened the door for Allentown to adapt a sports complex similar to Philadelphia by putting the minor-league baseball stadium and hockey arena next to one another.
Mayor of Allentown, Ed Pawlowski had other ideas in mind. Coca-Cola Park, home of Triple-A baseball’s Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs is located in the out-skirts of the city of Allentown. Pawlowski believes the hockey arena is a golden opportunity to rebuild the heart of the city portion in A-Town. Putting the sports facility in center city was something the majority of citizens did not want. When the Brooks Group began to eye Allentown as a future home for the Phantoms, many fans turned their attention to the empty land surrounding Coca-Cola Park hoping for a Philly-like sports complex. Although that’s what the far majority preferred, Mayor Pawloski went forward with planning the arena at 7th and Hamilton Street in center city.
Unlike bringing minor-league baseball to the Valley, it was a much longer and frustrating process before construction was to begin. Center city, Allentown consists blocks of small businesses led by middle-classed citizens. Before construction was to begin on 7th and Hamilton, 32 small businesses had to be acquired by the city.
Large groups of people began to argue the Mayor’s intention to rebuild the city of Allentown with the proposed hockey arena by taking over 32 businesses. There’s an old business phrase, “You have to spend many to make money”, but in Pawloski’s case it’s “You have to tear down businesses to make businesses”. On the other hand, business owners a block away from the site of the venue will have their shop flourish once construction is finished and annually over a million people visit the arena per year.
The Phantoms are currently housed in the Glens Falls Civic Center in Adirondack, New York. The franchise was born in 1995 in Philadelphia and was immediately named the Triple-A hockey affiliate for the Philadelphia Flyers in the American Hockey League. Their current arena in up-state, New York is among the smallest in the AHL with a capacity less than 5,000.
The hockey arena in Allentown will hold 8,500 for hockey and 10,000 for events like concerts and circuses. In December of 2011, the block was fenced off for the start of demolishing to make room for the venue. Ground breaking is supposed to take place later this month, as demolishing will not be finished until the middle of February.
The Puck is scheduled to drop for the new Allentown Phantoms in the 2013-14 hockey campaign. The arena is scheduled to open September of 2013. The arena will be a 360,000-square-foot facility and will feature a landscaped plaza leading visitors to a two-story glass entry-way. The plaza will also contain a team store, two ticket offices, a restaurant, café and sports grill.