As I walked down Hamilton Street the other day I couldn’t help but smile. As you approach the corner of 7th Street, one can’t help but notice the huge void where buildings once stood. Not being a huge hockey fan, I’m not as excited for Phantoms hockey as I am for what the arena represents, CHANGE. Sure I’ve heard and read the arguments against the building of the arena. People who have run businesses will be displaced, the architecture is being ruined and this is the worst part of Lehigh Valley to put a hockey arena. My answer to all the critics: In order to try and bring life back to a once vital area, you are going to have to face and deal with some adversity.
Being a Scranton native, I have seen first-hand how the now Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza has revitalized an area. From concerts, shopping, dining and yes, hockey, the arena has provided vitality to a once barren land. The city of Baltimore put its trust in sports, building Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M& T Bank Stadium, and the area is continuing to thrive some 25 years after the Orioles first took the field downtown.
Can we guarantee that this will revitalize the downtown? No we can’t. We all know there are no guarantees in life. But man it is one hell of a start! To all the naysayers, I only hope you’re willing to wait it out and see the positive impact that the arena can potentially have on our city. I for one can’t wait until the proverbial first brick is laid.