The plans for a downtown arena were realized on November 30th when a groundbreaking ceremony was held on 7th Street just outside the fence that surrounds the large hole in the ground that will be soon be an arena, office and hotel complex. A crowd consisting of city and state officials, project partners, Flyers and Phantoms officials, union laborers and Phantoms season tickets holders witnessed the historic event.
“We’re not just breaking ground on an arena today; we’re breaking ground on the future of Allentown,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said. “This arena project is the result of a tremendous team effort. State Senator Pat Browne worked tirelessly to craft brand new legislation to help fund this vision. I also can’t thank Jenn Mann and those who helped to push the Neighborhood Improvement Zone legislation through the State House and Senate, not once….but three times. This truly was a non-partisan, team effort to make this project a reality.”
The arena will seat 8,500 for hockey and up to 10,000 for other events. Expected to be completed for the start of the 2014-2015 season, the arena will be the home of the soon to be Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League. The Phantoms are the top minor league affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers. Paul Holmgren, General Manager of the Flyers, was seated next to Phantoms officials.
Team owners Rob and Jim Brooks say the Phantoms have already sold more than 1,700 season tickets.
The arena is one piece of a total $277 million investment on the site, including an eight story office building and a premier hotel, and is expected to spur other development throughout the downtown area.