TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Not a bad seat in the Consol Energy Center

Penguins/NHL Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010
 

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

Photo Galleries

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Penguins

  1. Sutter: Staal effect felt on 3rd line with Penguins
  2. Penguins trade Sutter to Canucks, sign free agent center Fehr
  3. Reliving the moment a decade ago that shifted the Penguins' history
  4. Rossi: ‘Hockey guy’ Sutter will be missed
  5. ‘Warning track’ makes Pittsburgh debut at Southpointe’s Iceoplex