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Beard-A-Thon Winners Come Away Impressed With CONSOL Energy Center

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
As we get closer and closer to the August 18 grand opening of CONSOL Energy Center when Paul McCartney brings his Up and Coming Tour to Pittsburgh, the future home of the Penguins will continue to move closer to completion.

Among the highlights of the tour for the Penguins' "Beard-A-Thon" winners was a tour of the locker room at CONSOL Energy Center.
While 250 lucky fans will get the chance on June 10 to check out the progress of CONSOL Energy Center when the Penguins hold “Student Flush” to test the water flow at the new arena, three winners from the Penguins second annual “Beard-A-Thon” had a sneak peak on May 24.

First-place winner Tyler Bluemling, along with runners-up Tom Crooks and Trevor Kuhlman, each came away plenty impressed with CONSOL Energy Center.

“It was beyond what I was expecting,” Bluemling said. “I have been to a lot of baseball stadiums. That is one of my hobbies in the summer. This is as good as any (stadium or arena) I’ve ever been to.”

“Being a long-time fan dating back to my first game in 1969, seeing this building and comparing it to what I still call the Civic Arena (Mellon Arena), it’s just a phenomenal place,” Crooks said. “We were very impressed with how the Penguins seem to be thinking of everything for the fan and looking ahead to make this the most modern facility in the world.”

“I liked the open concourse idea,” Kuhlman said. “I have been to Arena in Phoenix and I think they took some of the stuff from that. I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house. Just like they said, it is 100 percent state-of-the-art.”

The trio was given a tour of the entire facility, including the main concourse, seating bowl, Penguins locker room and many other behind-the-scenes areas. They were blown away by the way CONSOL Energy Center seems to offer something for both the hard-core and casual Penguins fan.

“We were overwhelmed by the size of the video screen,” Crooks said. “It was no Jerry Jones’ screen but it was really big. We got our picture standing next to it and I thought, ‘boy wouldn’t this look good in my back yard.’”

“One of the things I like to look at is the view from the upper deck,” said Bluemling, who also liked the fact that you will be able to see the action from the top of the aisles. “When you sit up top you almost feel as if you are sitting on top of the players.”

All three were mesmerized by the Penguins locker room, player lounge area and weight room – which will be among the best in the league.

“It’s going to be very nice for them to be Penguins,” Kuhlman said. “To come in and get to do their job there – that’s going to be pretty sweet.”

“The Penguins locker room is just incredible,” Crooks said. “To be able to walk around there was great. To know that in just a few short months you are going to have Sid Crosby and Geno (Malkin) and the boys in the locker room where we were before they were is cool.”

Another aspect of CONSOL Energy Center Bluemling feels fans will enjoy is Suite 66 – a high-end restaurant located right next to the Penguins locker room with glass walls which allow fans to watch the team as they prepare to take the ice.

“Aside from the locker room, which we have heard (Penguins co-owner) Ron Burkle say he wants to have the best locker room in the NHL, I thought the coolest thing for me was Suite 66 – including the whole concept of letting fans be so close to such an intimate team setting,” Bluemling said. “I thought that was one of the coolest things I have ever seen in a stadium.”

Kuhlman can’t wait to hear the acoustics at CONSOL Energy Center.

“I think it will be really cool to see shows there,” Kuhlman said. “You won’t get the feedback from the walls at CONSOL Energy Center which I think will be really awesome.”

First-hand accounts of CONSOL Energy Center such as these continue to whet all of our appetites for the grand opening. As these three lucky fans so accurately described here, it’s going to be one amazing venue for the city of Pittsburgh.

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