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Local Media Tours Consol Energy Center

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer gave local reporters a tour of Consol Energy Center on Wednesday morning.

With the 2010 National Hockey League season on a two-week hiatus as the game’s top players represent their countries at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, the local media spent Wednesday morning touring Consol Energy Center, the Penguins’ new home beginning with the 2010-11 season.

Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer conducted the tour, which was attended by TV outlets KDKA, WPXI and WTAE, 1250 ESPN Radio, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The tour began at ice level as the contingent entered through what will soon be the zamboni entrance of the arena. Standing just a few feet from where the ice surface will sit before we know it, Sawyer fielded questions and gave a brief rundown of some of the upcoming construction phases the arena will be going through.

By the end of March, the high definition scoreboard which Sawyer said will “be the best scoreboard in any indoor arena in North America” will be installed. Workers had to wait until the concrete hardened before the heavy machinery required to install the scoreboard could be brought inside Consol Energy Center, which is slated to hold 18,087 fans and has 66 luxury suites.

Later this month railings will be placed in the seating bowl, while the actual seats will start to be added within the next two months. Most of the seats will be black, although several rows of gold will be sprinkled throughout to create a ripple effect.

If you are a fan of the Igloo Club at Mellon Arena, you will surely enjoy the two club lounges located on the east and west sides of Consol Energy Center. Although it has not been determined if the clubs will have a corporate sponsor, one will be called the Legacy Lounge, and it will have more of a historical flavor, while the Velocity Lounge will have a modern-to-futuristic feel.

Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer takes local reporters inside the Penguins locker room at Consol Energy Center.

Consol Energy Center will even have an area devoted to children thanks to the presence of the Highmark Kids Zone, which will provide an area with games and a television screen so that kids can come and play during the game.

So what did some of your favorite media personalities think about the new arena?

“I think it is awesome,” Rich Walsh, a sports anchor on WPXI, said. “It is unlike anything that I have ever seen. I have been to a lot of arenas in the NHL and this looks to be by far the best one.”

“I love the subtleties of the building,” 1250 ESPN Radio’s Ken Laird said. “The locker room I think might be my favorite – it’s not too big. I think you get a temptation with some of these newer buildings to make everything so big. This is a nice oval shape which promotes a team atmosphere in there.”

“I like the intimacy of the seating, and how everything is set up with no obstructed views,” the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Kevin Gorman said. “Everybody has a nice view of the ice.

“It also has a lot of amenities for fans to take in before, during and after the games. You can see this is something that every fan, whether they are a sports fan, a hockey fan or neither, can enjoy this building in some way or another.”

All three reporters were also blown away by Consol Energy Center’s upper concourse, which offers an amazing view of the city of Pittsburgh.

A view of the Pittsburgh skyline from the upper concourse at Consol Energy Center.

“What stands out the most to me is the seating for the everyday fan,” Walsh said. “The least expensive ticket might be the best seat in the building. Not only do you have a great view of the ice, but if you go out to the concourse you have a great view of the city and the skyline. I think the third level above the suites might be the best ticket in the arena.”

“What is really cool is that the top level really gets the best view of city skyline,” Laird added. “Everything is open. You have standing-room-only tickets up there but you can also mingle, get something to eat, get a soda and still see the action. I think they really reward those fans.”

“I think people will enjoy being able to go and eat or get a drink between periods or at a break and not miss any of the game,” Gorman said. “They can stand, eat and watch the game from different angles. I think that is one of the things with these newer arenas is there are different viewpoints where you can stand and watch the game.”
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