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Model arena fills void for longtime hockey fan

| Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, 4:57 p.m.
MATTHEW KITCHEN
Punxsutawney native Matthew Kitchen built a scale model of the Mellon Arena.
MATTHEW KITCHEN
Punxsutawney native Matthew Kitchen built a scale model of the Mellon Arena.

Like a lot of Pittsburgh hockey fans, Matthew Kitchen went to a playoff game last year and felt a great, empty void where an igloo once stood.

So, he went home and built his own scale model of the Civic/Mellon Arena from scratch.

Well, not totally from scratch.

“I printed out the original blueprints from '58 to '59,” Kitchen says. “Probably went through a thousand or so photos (to determine) what logos were on the boards and scoreboards for as much detail as I could.”

The results are about as close to replicating the original as possible. The model is built mostly from balsa wood, corrugated basswood and poster board. It's supposed to represent the arena in 2010, right down to the Jordan Staal posters on the walls.

Kitchen lives in Manassas, Va., but grew up on Penguins hockey in Punxsutawney.

“My love of Pittsburgh, the arena and the Penguins spans decades,” Kitchen says. “Even with the Consol Energy Center open and attending games there, it still doesn't feel like ‘home' like the Igloo did. I am sure it eventually will, over time.”

Kitchen says he always wanted to become an architect, and did — sort of. He's a network architect, building IT systems. Building something physical, like the model of the Igloo, was a chance to do something different.

“It took around six months to do,” says Kitchen. “That involved coming home in the evening, working on it for two or three hours, more on weekends. I didn't realize it took that amount of time. It had to be exactly perfect. My wife's very happy it's done.”

Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mmachosky@tribweb.com or 412-320-7901.

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