Not a bad seat in the Consol Energy Center
Drawn first by a love for hockey and later by the demands of his job, Tom McMillan, 53, has been visiting National Hockey League arenas for the better part of five decades.
While new and shiny venues kept popping up, McMillan, the Penguins' vice president of communications, almost always walked away disappointed.
"You see all the other arenas, and you envy all the other arenas for 40 years, and you say, 'Can you imagine if we had an arena like this?'" McMillan said.
"And now we have."
Pens fans get their first peek at the $321 million arena during a Sept. 22 preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings. McMillan promises an experience they have never seen.
"If your only experience was Mellon Arena, you will be shocked," he said. "There isn't a bad seat in the house. There are no obstructed seats."
McMillan said there were 3,000 semi-obstructed seats at the Civic Arena.
"Here, every seat has a great view," he said.
With the center's extensive bank of windows and two spacious concourses, pedestrians on Washington Place can practically see the game on the ice below.
With two bowls of seats — lower and upper — fans walk down to access them, as opposed to trudging up steep steps at Heinz Field, PNC Park and the Civic Arena. The descending slope creates a perk: The person seated in front of you seldom will block your view.
"We used our CEO, Ken Sawyer, who is 6-foot-5, as a test, and we could see over his head," McMillan said.
McMillan, who first visited Civic Arena in 1964, said it was originally built to hold about 12,000 people, and that was the number the concourses and bathrooms were built to accommodate. But over time, capacity grew to 17,000, and two balconies were added.
When the arena was designed in the 1950s, "nobody foresaw some of this stuff. They built an arena that was really cool for 1959," he said.
The crowded conditions at the Civic Arena shouldn't emerge at Consol, he said. Two levels of concourses should ease congestion between periods, when fans walk to restrooms or line up at concession stands.
Other features McMillan said will make Consol stand out:
» Rows of black seats, interrupted by rows of gold seats, will give the arena a distinctive Pittsburgh feel.
» A four-sided, 70,000-pound scoreboard. Just one screen on it is bigger than the scoreboard at Mellon.
» 66 suites (15 more than the Civic Arena), and 32 loge boxes, which offer semi-private seating, (the Civic Arena had none) equipped with TV screens.
» A spectacular view of the Golden Triangle that can be seen from the upper concourse.
"People with the cheapest seats have the best view of the city skyline," McMillan said.
By the numbers
Facts and figures about Consol Energy Center:
800 — Number of HD TVs throughout the building
386 — Number of toilets and urinals
35 — Weight in tons of the scoreboard
18,087 — Seating capacity for hockey games
19,100 — Seating capacity for basketball games
20,000 — Seating capacity for center-stage concerts
10 — Percent increase in ticket prices over Mellon Arena seating
150 — Projected number of events per year, including 45-50 hockey games
4 — Clusters of speakers built into the roof
Source: Consol Energy Center
Consol Energy Centersrc="http://photos.mycapture.com/PITT/1048420/30761896T.jpg" alt="Consol Energy Center" title="Consol Energy Center">
Due to Copyright, not all Consol Energy Center photos are available.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Sutter, Downie, Greiss being tested for mumps, out tonight
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Downie, Farnham bringing a much-needed edge to the Penguins
- Minor league report: Other prospects on Penguins’ radar
- Penguins notebook: Memorable night for Pouliot, Trocheck
- Penguins star Crosby talks about his experience with mumps
- Penguins notebook: Kunitz ‘really close’ to return
- Malkin’s success a source of pride for Russian educator
- Fleury’s career-best 6th shutout lifts Penguins over Avalanche in overtime
- Pouliot scores in NHL debut as Penguins tame Panthers