Monday, April 3, 2017

El Paso to Model Most Expensive Minor League Arena in the Country

El Paso to Model Most Expensive Minor League Arena in the Country

Experts say the Allentown, Pennsylvania PPL Center costs spiraled out of control, tax scandal, corruption and FBI involvement

This is part 1 in a series looking at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The City of El Paso has used a $180 million dollar estimate for the Downtown arena that they wish to place on top of the Duranguito neighborhood after its demolition.

In their public outreach they have used the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania as an example of success.

However, a closer look is needed.

City of El Paso Estimates for Costs Are Often Wrong

First, whenever the City of El Paso puts out an estimate, you have to use the Arrieta-Candelaria-Wilson Algorithm of Estimated Costs

We don’t know the exact formula for this algorithm (they probably don't know it either), but we are sure the fuzzy math lady who so brilliantly, along with Joyce Wilson, in estimating the costs of Southwest University Park, knows the exact formula.

However, it’s safe to say that doubling the cost of the Downtown Arena is close to what the Arreita-Caldelaria-Wilson algorithm is.

So, we’d say about $360 million.

City Using Allentown's PPL Center as a "An Example of a Successful Downtown Location."

Above, City of El Paso used Allentown PPL Center as Successful Example, not knowing the problems, FBI investigation, spiraling out-of-control costs.

 However, we look into the PPL Center and it was not what it seems.

Lesson in Disaster and Out-of-Control Spending: PPL Center, Allentown, Penn

In the planning, for the PPL center, Allentown estimated that it would need 3,500 parking spaces for their 10,000-size arena. After it was built, they found out the actual number was 4,200.[i]

Skeptics of the Allentown PPL Center had said downtown was the wrong area for the PPL Center.

The PPL center ended up being an 8,500 – seat facility as reported by The Mourning Call [ii]

Other differences were that the PPL Center was part of a riverfront development. I’d assume the riverfront is much more appealing than our riverfront here in El Paso.[iii]

Scott Kraus and Matt Assad say the PPL Center cost $177 million, but The Morning Call would correct this later. However, they say that the pitch was originally for a hockey arena, which was supposed to cost $80 million, but it “morphed” into the PPL Center at a cost of $177.

In 2011, the PPL Center was sued by a group of suburban communities “unhappy that their resident’s local earned income taxes would have been siphoned off to help finance construction.”[iv]

To be continued…

[i] McEvoy, Colin. “Allentown prepares for parking, traffic for hockey arena opening.” The Express-Times, September 5, 2014, updated January 2, 2015.
[ii] Kraus, Scott and Assad, Matt. “Arena opens, symbol of hope for better Allentown.” The Morning Call, September 10, 2014.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Ibid.