New arena enthralls Penguins fans
Many Penguins fans were forced to endure a ferocious storm on their way to Consol Energy Center, but when the skies cleared, they found themselves in Emerald City at the house the Wizard of Cros built.
The Penguins' new home is by all accounts a gem, and fans found themselves close to being mesmerized upon entering Consol Energy Center for the first time Wednesday before Sidney Crosby and Penguins faced the Detroit Red Wings.
"It's pretty overwhelming at first," said Stephanie Smith, a Robinson resident and season-ticket holder. "Everything about it is so big, so pretty, and so impressive."
What immediately has become evident is that multiple aspects of the new building's appeal are pleasing to fans. From its exterior and interior architecture to the new sound system, the building was a big hit in its hockey debut.
"The thing I noticed was the smell," said Smith's husband, Zak. "Everything about it smells new, not like the Mellon Arena."
For all of its charm, Mellon Arena was often criticized for being a less-than-ideal arena for a professional hockey team. Chief among those complaints was the small concourse area.
Those days are over.
"You notice right away how huge these concourses are," said Dave Meyers of Squirrel Hill, a longtime season-ticket holder who sits in Section 116. "You know there are a lot of people here, bit this place is so spacious, it doesn't feel like there are too many people. I can't imagine anyone having a better arena than this."
Although the Penguins were in good form Wednesday, it seems many of the fans opted to take pictures of the building instead of watching the game. Many fans were drawn to the west end of the building, close to the Trib Total Media Gate area.
Taking pictures of the city through the glass area on the arena's west side is clearly going to become popular.
"It's just awesome here," season-ticket holder Mike Dusch said. "Everyone will love it."
A number of fans bypassed the open house a few weeks ago, instead preferring to see the arena for the first time at a hockey game.
One fan, however, was lucky enough to get an up-close look many months ago.
Mt. Washington's Gary Delehanty enjoyed a sneak peak at the building almost a year ago because his uncle was part of the construction team.
"To see the difference between then and now is unreal," Delehanty said. "Everything about this place is amazing. It has huge concourses, there literally isn't a bad seat in this place, and it looks so good from the outside."
Opening night at Consol Energy Center was clearly a success based upon the complaints that were made. In fact, fans only complained about two things, one of which was that the toilets don't flush automatically.
The other complaint?
"I only have one problem with this place," Meyers said. "The thing is, I only have a half-season ticket plan. That's not good enough. I need to be here every night for every event this building hosts. It's that great of a place. It's perfect."