Regionalism or Anti-Urbanism? Health, Hockey, Hubris.

In the span of four days, we learned that Allentown Symphony Hall will be renamed Miller Symphony Hall in an effort to “de-city-tize” it (real quote) as Allentown revitalizes, and that the minor league Phantoms, for whom Allentown’s NIZ was created, to whom Allentown tax money will go and to whom the suburban municipalities wanted none of their money to go, will be christened the Lehigh Valley Phantoms when the puck drops in 2014.

Reading the two stories along side each other is interesting.

this:

“Some people might have felt better, in a parochial sense, if it had been the Allentown Phantoms, but we live in a region and this is a regional team,” said Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce President Tony Iannelli. “It’s not about a city. It’s about attracting the biggest fan base and building a market place. We should embrace this choice. I like it a lot.”

but then again, this:

Soon after Evans was hired as Allentown Symphony’s executive director in January 2009, she began to think about a name change for the facility.

She thought Allentown Symphony Hall was too provincial and limiting, because the venue’s scope and reach is much broader than the city. “To de-city-ize it makes people think of it less as a city organization,” Evans said.

The Symphony Association board approved a name change to Lehigh Valley Performing Arts Center more than a year ago. But Evans said she began to have second thoughts as she saw little benefit for other things designated “Lehigh Valley.”

pft.

So, hockey fans will come in from the Counties if the team isn’t called “Allentown.”  But arts patrons won’t come to anything named Allentown (too urban) or Lehigh Valley (too quaint). What does that say for the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley?

Why not the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of Allentown?  Worked for the Angels.

I love the Lehigh Valley and I love its once and future beating urban heart.  I don’t love this strange mincing of words.  Invest in Allentown, take tax money from Allentown residents. Add to the chorus of people crapping on Allentown.

And then this: Lehigh Valley health ranked among lowest in Pa., report finds (wfmz.com).  The Lehigh Valley has very good, nationally ranked hospital networks that employ most of the people in the region.  I wonder why our health is so poor. Could it be the chronic neglect of health, hunger, and housing needs in our urban cores?  Hmmm.  In the meantime, guess what the Phantoms’ arena is going to be named? Here’s a hint.

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6 comments

  1. I was dissapointed to hear about the name change to Allentown Symphony Hall because it has a history and I think Allentown should be proud of itself.

    As for the Phantoms, neither Allentown nor Lehigh Valley realtime bothers me. I think using Lehigh Valley for the Iron Pigs makes sense since the stadium is rather close to both Catty and Bethlehem. The arena is right in the heart of the downtown, so calling them the Allentown Phantoms would make sense.

    Come to think of it, the old Outlawz arena football team should have been called the Lower Saucon Outlawz.

  2. Based on the hint and without knowing much at all about the Phantoms, are they naming the arena McWing Stadium or Mighty Wings Arena? I think both name changes (not the arena but the symphony and the hockey team) are an interesting study in how to attract the audience you are looking for, rather than detracting from the city’s importance. If those resources were abusing or abandoning the city, I would feel more strongly about the name changes.

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