On a warm evening in the Steel City, over a thousand Penguins fans gathered to cheer on their team by watching Game 2 of the opening playoff round against Tampa Bay on the huge 16’ x 9’ HD outdoor screen presented by Trib Total Media.
“There are a lot of people here,” attendee Greg Gavulich said. “It is the first time I have been here to the big screen. My wife and kids have been here before. It feels just like you are in the stadium. It’s great.”
Greg and his wife, Karen, rushed down 15 blocks to get to the big screen in time to see the first period and were delighted to be amongst the hustle and bustle of hundreds of other fans.
Jamie and Jenifer Mamula from the South Side brought their two children, Kyle and Courtnie, to soak in the intense atmosphere of playoff hockey.
“We are glad to be here, it is really good,” Jamie said. “We came up here for the atmosphere itself. We watched the first game at home, but came here to a be a part of it and cheer on the team.”
The big screen is at a new location this year, set up in the Civic Arena south parking lot just across Centre Avenue from CONSOL Energy Center. Last season it was set up on the Civic Arena lawn.
The screen has allowed thousands of Penguins fans to watch playoff games outside in the balmy weather together since 2008.
The atmosphere around the screen was buzzing with anticipation as Penguins fans sat in deck chairs, on the floor and grabbed any space they could to catch to a glimpse of their heroes in action.
There were plenty of pre-game activities for fans to take advantage of before the puck dropped, including concession stands and a dunk tank.
Mikey and Big Bob, DJs from 96.1 KISS-FM, hosted the entertainment, courtesy of First Niagara.
The Penguins’ huge fan base makes getting a ticket for regular-season games hard to come by, let alone playoff games. Game 2 marked a record crowd as 18,507 fans squeezed inside CONSOL Energy Center.
Many of the fans that watched on the big screen directly opposite the arena came to show their support and help create a unique atmosphere.
Julie Harbert had travelled up from Morgantown, W.V. to savor the big game atmosphere with fellow Penguins fans and she was not disappointed.
“It is wonderful,” Harbert said. “It has been really energetic and everyone has been really excited. We just love Penguins hockey and playoff hockey. We just wanted to be around other Penguins fans to watch the game.”