Once again, CONSOL Energy Center made a great first impression, this time for the general public.
Fans arrived early for the public open house, and the line stretched all the way from the Trib Total Media gate down to Fifth Avenue by the time the doors finally opened. Those fans that arrived early left in awe.
The jumbotron was playing Penguins highlights and CONSOL Energy Center construction videos while fans wandered through the open concourses and sat in the seats, taking pictures along the way.
David and Cynthia Benestelli from Pleasant Hills were sitting in the upper level in one of the last rows of the arena.
“I can’t see where a bad sightline would be, and we’re all the way up here,” David said.
The glass façade on the west side of the building was a big hit. Several people simply said “wow” when going up the escalators from the lower to the upper concourse where Pittsburgh’s skyline is in full view through the giant windows. And many fans were gathered in the upper concourse near the Brewhouse, which is where the best views of the city can be found.
“It’s impressive,” Cynthia said. “The views (of the city) are beautiful and all the glass is great.”
“It’s like Mario got a lot of good ideas and put them together,” David said.
The public not only got a taste of the new arena, but they also got a taste of the food at several concession stands. The loge boxes and some of the suites on the legends level were open for the public to visit, as well.
Anna Foust and her mother, Kim, came from Freeport to check out the new arena.
“It’s amazing,” Anna Foust said, sitting in the loge box watching a television. “The (loge) boxes are great, even though I probably won’t be sitting here ever again.”
Anna is a student at Gannon University so she said she doesn’t make it to a lot of games.
“But I’ve been to Mellon enough to know that this is a big difference,” she said.
The wall of high schools jerseys was a big hit, too. In the Igloo, the jerseys were along the concourse mixed in with everything else, but in CONSOL Energy Center, they have their own separate walkway in the lower concourse.
“I love the high school jerseys,” Terri Malek from Latrobe said. “It’s classy. It shows people that there are more hockey teams than just the Penguins.”
She also enjoyed the views from the arena.
“You can see the entire city,” she said. “There’s glass, so you’re not enclosed in an igloo.”
All the TVs in the arena also impressed her.
“If you go get something to eat, you don’t have to miss the play,” Malek said.
She always felt a little bad for the Penguins, she said, because all the other teams in the city had state-of-the-art venues in which to play, citing Heinz Field and PNC Park.
But now, CONSOL Energy Center leads the pack.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” Malek said. Author: Tony Jovenitti