|Location||701 Hamilton Street, Allentown, Pennsylvania 18101|
|Public transit||LANTA bus: 102, 103, 104, 107, 209, 210, 211, 213, 218, 220, 322, 323, 324 at Allentown Transportation Center|
|Owner||City of Allentown|
|Capacity||8,420 (9,046 with standing room) (Hockey)|
8,500 (Indoor football)
|Broke ground||January 3, 2012 (site demolition)|
November 29, 2012 (official)
|Opened||September 10, 2014|
|Construction cost||$191.4 million ($282 million total project)|
|Architect||Sink Combs Dethlefs|
Elkus Manfredi Architects
|Project manager||Hammes Company Sports Development, Inc.|
|Structural engineer||Martin/Martin, Inc.|
|Services engineer||M–E Engineers, Inc.|
|General contractor||Alvin H. Butz Jr.|
|Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) (2014–present)|
Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (PIFL/AIF/NAL) (2015–2018)
Philadelphia Soul (AFL) (2016) (late season and playoffs)
PPL Center is a sports arena in Allentown, Pennsylvania that opened on September 10, 2014. Its naming rights are owned by the PPL Corporation, which is headquartered in Allentown. PPL paid an undisclosed sum over 10 years.
The arena is part of a larger redevelopment project of the central business district of Allentown. The project encompasses a 5-acre square block area, in which several new structures are planned to be erected: Part of the arena site was previously developed in the 1980s as an office building called Corporate Plaza. On February 23, 1994, it collapsed into a sinkhole, due to limestone in the ground and the decision to not place the building on a concrete pad, but rather on spread footings; the plaza was imploded on March 19 of that year. Inside the arena is a new ground-floor studio that houses WFMZ-TV's news operation.
Competition on building sites
Rebuilding an arena on the site of the Spectrum in Philadelphia was rejected in favor of the more profitable Xfinity Live! project and a new 180-room Renaissance by Marriott hotel. The competition to build a new arena for the Phantoms in 2008 was primarily between Allentown and Camden, New Jersey. While Camden was closer, Allentown had a more elaborate proposal which helped secure Allentown's bid for the team.
Plans to build the PPL Center at the corner of 7th and Hamilton Streets in downtown Allentown were announced in late 2009. For much of 2009 and 2010, the focus of the project was on securing funding. The project took a major leap forward in 2011, when several properties were purchased by the city to help clear the way for the project to begin. By the end of January 2012, all of the properties had been purchased with final demolition of all buildings occurring in early February 2012.
The arena plays host to one local minor league sports team, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League. It had been home to the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, an indoor football team, who played four seasons in the arena from 2015 to 2018. It also served as the site for the last remaining home games and two home playoff games for the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul due to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2016. The arena has hosted an NHL preseason game "Flyers in the Valley" every year since 2016.
Since 2016 it hosts the Allentown Indoor Race, a midget car racing event of the Indoor Auto Racing Championship Series.
On May 31, 2011 a comprehensive parking analysis conducted by Traffic Planning and Design, Inc. (TPD) was submitted to Allentown Economic Development Corporation. The analysis stated the total number of parking spaces within the study area, between the public and private parking garages and surface lots, was of approximately 7,376 parking spaces. As a result of this parking analysis, the existing spaces and proposed construction of an additional 500 parking spaces to be built with this development, will adequately accommodate the highest peak period parking demands of the proposed Allentown arena and mixed-used development. In comparison, Coca-Cola Park on Allentown's east side has 2,500 parking spots available.
Also on May 31, 2011 a comprehensive traffic analysis conducted by Traffic Planning and Design, Inc. (TPD) was submitted to Allentown Economic Development Corporation. The report stated that the existing roadway infrastructure can accommodate the new traffic generated by the proposed development. Conditions will be further improved with the recommended improvements.
Some concern about the PPL Center is centered on the cost of the arena relative to the cost of other dedicated American Hockey League arenas in the country. Nathan Benefield, the director of Public Analysis for The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, a Pennsylvania free-market think tank which opposes public funding of stadiums, believes that the PPL Center benefited from funding a plan with no cap on public money beyond the annual revenue generated by the zone. As of October 2012, $224.3 million in bonds have been sold.
- Historical and Notable Sites in Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Dime Savings and Trust Company (National Register of Historic Places building being incorporated into the PPL Center complex)
- Farr Building (Historic 1907 building)
- McEvoy, Colin (January 30, 2014). "Allentown Hockey Arena Operator Announced as Construction Progresses". The Express-Times. Easton. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
- "Record Crowd at PPL Center as Phantoms Garner 5th Straight Sellout". Lehigh Valley Phantoms. January 16, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
- "Public Invited to PPL Center Open House & Arts Park Celebration". WFMZ-TV. Allentown. August 27, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
- McEvoy, Colin (January 3, 2012). "As Allentown Hockey Arena Demolition Begins, New Business Announces Office Opening". The Express-Times. Easton. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- Kraus, Scott; Assad, Matt (November 29, 2012). "Phantoms, Allentown Formally Launch Arena Construction". The Morning Call. Allentown. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- Assad, Matt; Kraus, Scott (September 19, 2015). "How Allentown built the most expensive minor league complex in the country". The Morning Call. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
- "High Concrete Group Producing Precast Concrete for Parking Garage of New Arena in Allentown, Pa" (Press release). High Concrete Group. April 28, 2013. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
- "Arenas". M–E Engineers, Inc. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
- Lash, Devin (April 4, 2012). "Allentown Zoners Approve Butz's $10M Expansion Downtown". The Morning Call. Allentown. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- Kraus, Scott; Assad, Matt (September 10, 2014). "Arena Opens, Symbol of Hope for a Better Allentown". The Morning Call. Allentown. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
- McEvoy, Colin (February 21, 2013). "Allentown Hockey Arena Will Be Named PPL Center". The Express-Times. Easton. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- "Corporate Plaza collapse stunned Lehigh Valley 18 years ago". WFMZ-TV. Allentown. February 20, 2012.
- Blockus, Gary R. (September 6, 2008). "Faceoff for Minor League Hockey Team?". The Morning Call. Allentown. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- "Parking Analysis" (PDF). City of Allentown. May 31, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
- "A to Z Guide". Lehigh Valley IronPigs. November 22, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
- "Master Plan Traffic Analysis" (PDF). City of Allentown (via web.archive.org). May 31, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
- Kraus, Scott; Assad, Matt (February 4, 2012). "Allentown Hockey Arena Costs Adding Up". The Morning Call. Allentown. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- Kraus, Scott (July 11, 2012). "Arena on Track to Rise in Fall With Pennsylvania Steel". The Morning Call. Allentown. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- Panepinto, Peter (October 2, 2012). "Allentown Completes Bond Sales, Receives Funding for Hockey Arena Project". The Express-Times. Easton. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
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