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Allentown's hockey arena may not be ready in time for 2013 season

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 29 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 31 2012 05:37:06 AM CDT

Will we be hooked on Hockey a year from now?

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Will we be hooked on hockey a year from now? Those involved in Allentown's hockey arena project have contended everything will be done in the fall of 2013 but will that actually be the case?

A hockey arena is in Allentown's future. In fact it's a $230 million hockey arena project with the Allentwon Phantoms taking the ice in the fall of 2013 - at least that's what we've been told.

"It's always been a hard thing for me to believe that it was possible to do that," said Lehigh County state Representative Jennifer Mann. She's on the board tasked with policing policies in the special tax zone.

She isn't the only one with doubts about the fall 2013 date.

In an e-mail Phantom team co-owner Rob Brooks said there was no guarantee.

"We are hopeful the arena will open in the fall of 2013. However, with the lawsuits resolved, everyone is working as quickly as we can to open the arena next fall but nobody is in a position to absolutely guarantee a 2013 opening given all that has occurred," he said.

"In no way do I view this as a major setback. It's a disappointment. It's a reality of this process and the time it takes," Mann said.

So the next question is: will business be ready to wait? Lehigh Valley developer J.B. Reilly, who has a $100 million-plus stake in the surrounding arena development, would be the one to ask.

The developer did not return our calls Thursday afternoon.

Those in charge of policing the project say they aren't worried about business bowing out from a delay.

The ANIZDA Board, those charged with looking after the designated zone, did pass a resolution expanding the Neighborhood Improvement Zone about two-and-half acres to include the Americus Hotel and other businesses.

The city's bond counsel still has to make sure everything is legally binding before it signs off on the expansion.