ARENA UP­GRADED

Paved park­ing lot, acous­tic im­prove­ments among touted fea­tures.

The Citizens' Voice - - Local - BY BOB KALI­NOWSKI STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: bkali­nowski@cit­i­zensvoice.com 570-821-2055, @cvbobkal

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The ice-mak­ing sys­tem is new. Dozens of acous­tic pan­els were added to boost sound qual­ity. And the park­ing lot is fi­nally fully paved.

The Mo­he­gan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza is proudly show­ing off the $2.8 mil­lion in im­prove­ments added to the fa­cil­ity over the sum­mer.

Lo­cal of­fi­cials gath­ered with the arena’s man­age­ment team on Fri­day to cel­e­brate the up­grades to the 18-year-old venue, which hosts na­tional con­certs and shows and is the home to the Wilkes-Barre/ Scran­ton Pen­guins hockey team.

“This place here is an icon for North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia,” said state Rep. Ed­die Day Pashin­ski, D-121, of Wilkes-Barre. “This place has put North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia on the map.”

Donna Cupin­ski, a mem­ber of the Luzerne County Con­ven­tion Cen­ter Au­thor­ity, which owns the arena, said Fri­day was nearly 23 years to the day since the board first met to dis­cuss a pos­si­ble arena.

“To­gether, they shared a dream,” she said.

Cupin­ski rat­tled off a long list of im­prove­ments made to the arena over the years since it open in 1999, but em­pha­sized the park­ing lot. The lot was paved in stages over the 18 years and now is fully com­plete.

“Let me say that again. We paved the en­tire park­ing lot,” Cupin­ski said.

Im­prove­ments to the arena were paid through the county’s ho­tel room tax and state grants, of­fi­cials said.

Brian Sipe, the arena’s gen­eral man­ager, thanked the peo­ple who fre­quent the arena, which he said has achieved world­wide hon­ors and con­tin­ues to add more events like high school bas­ket­ball games.

“We have proven that WilkesBarre con­tin­ues to be a great place for con­certs to see, hockey to be played and for lo­cal high school and col­lege stu­dents to play bas­ket­ball in or re­ceive their diplo­mas,” Sipe said.

State Sen. John Yu­dichak, D-14, of Ply­mouth Twp., said upon en­ter­ing the arena he spot­ted a photo of Neil Di­a­mond per­form­ing on open­ing night in 1999. He quoted from Di­a­mond’s “Amer­ica” song, say­ing, “we’ve been trav­el­ing far” about the progress the arena has gen­er­ated in the area af­ter much pub­lic debate and the “Arena Yes” cam­paign.

“Yes, we have trav­eled far from the days when peo­ple de­bated the value of hav­ing an arena to the days when we can­not even think of North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia with­out this tremen­dous com­mu­nity as­set,” Yu­dichak said.

Yu­dichak noted the arena cre­ated more than 1,000 jobs, $63 mil­lion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and $10 mil­lion in an­nual tax rev­enue.

“I want to thank the nearly 400,000 fam­i­lies who en­joy this beau­ti­ful arena every year,” Yu­dichak said. “The in­vest­ments we make today and will con­tinue to make in the arena is an in­vest­ment in your fam­i­lies and the fam­i­lies of North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia.”

WAR­REN RUDA / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

The Luzerne County Con­ven­tion Cen­ter Au­thor­ity hosted a press con­fer­ence high­light­ing re­cent venue en­hance­ments to Mo­he­gan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. From left, are at­ten­dees Tom Woods and Ed Harry, au­thor­ity mem­bers; Brian Sipe, arena gen­eral man­ager; state Sen. John Yu­dichak; Donna Cupin­ski and Frank Conyn­g­ham, au­thor­ity mem­bers; state Rep. Ed Pashin­ski and Michele Reilly, au­thor­ity mem­ber.

WAR­REN RUDA / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Acous­tic pan­els were in­stalled in the ceil­ing and along the walls at Mo­he­gan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in WilkesBarre Twp.

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