Allentown's hockey arena taking shape

Author: , Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published: Apr 25 2013 03:04:18 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 25 2013 10:21:24 AM EDT
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The moving of dirt, raising of steel and drilling of bedrock are sparking progress 24 feet below the streets of downtown Allentown.

The five acre site surrounded by construction will eventually become a hockey arena.

Steel beams, ranging from 200 to 40,000 pounds, are starting to sprout, outlining what will hold 8,500 rabid fans.

Underneath the controlled chaos of construction, 14 miles of pipe, used to freeze the ice, are being set, said Mike Leone, the project head.

Some 135 to 500 workers are pounding, lifting, and moving six days a week, 10 to 12 hours per day to ensure the arena is ready for its fall 2014 debut.

The biggest challenge, Leone said, is the drilling and laying of 1,700 piles of rock.

"For us to reach the bedrock could be 27 feet below the grade to 200 feet. The deeper you go the longer it takes," he said.

The payoff is preventing a sinkhole.

Leone worked to raze and rebuild the $1.3 billion New Jersey Medowlands Stadium. He said the Allentown project may not have the size and scope of that, but because three different buildings are set for the site, Allentown presents a more complicated set of challenges. Overall, he said he expects it to be a complete success.

"I think people will be very pleased and make Allentown look good," he said.