Fontana back as chairman of Sports & Exhibition Authority
By Mike Wereschagin
Staff Reporter, 412-320-7900

Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013, 11:03 a.m.

Seventy-five seconds.

That's the duration of state Sen. Wayne Fontana's ouster as chairman of the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority board of directors.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl kicked him off the board in mid-March, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald reappointed him less than two weeks later, and on Thursday, during the first board meeting since the kerfuffle began, the board unanimously voted to return him to the chairmanship.

The vote concluded one minute and fifteen seconds into the meeting — if you include the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I certainly appreciate my fellow board members' confidence and support,” Fontana, D-Brookline, said later.

The man Ravenstahl named to replace him, his aide and former campaign manager Paul McKrell, joined the seven-member board's voice vote giving Fontana the chairmanship. Ravenstahl, through McKrell, declined to comment on Fontana's election.

Ravenstahl booted Fontana from the board just days after Fontana endorsed City Councilman Bill Peduto, a Ravenstahl foe, for mayor. The mayor's chief of staff, Yarone Zober, said then that Fontana's endorsement had nothing to do with his ouster.

Ravenstahl and Fitzgerald each get three appointments to the board and one joint appointment.

Fontana has served on the authority since 2006, when the late Mayor Bob O'Connor appointed him.

Fontana's Senate district includes all four major SEA-owned properties: PNC Park and Heinz Field on the North Shore, Consol Energy Center in Uptown and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, where board meetings take place.

Thursday's vote marked Fontana's fourth election as chairman.

The board also voted unanimously to seek a $20 million grant from the federal Department of Transportation for infrastructure for the redevelopment of the Lower Hill District, where the Civic Arena was demolished. It agreed to pay consultant Roy Keinitz $20,000 to apply for the grant, which is part of a program he formerly oversaw at the DOT. The Penguins will pay half of that fee, according to the SEA.

Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or



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