This weekend I officially joined the ever-growing list of hockey fans who have toured -- and subsequently been impressed by -- the new arena in Pittsburgh. Before I went I was, quite frankly, worried that everything had been over-hyped and blown out of proportion. It wasn't as if I was expecting to meet Mario or anything, but I sort of felt like I was on my way to the theatre for Star Wars, Episode 2: an expedition that did not end with puppy dogs, ice cream, or rainbows.
Anyway, the short version is that I was not disappointed. Even a little bit!
After the jump you'll see my two favourite aspects of the arena. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.The Seats:
The main reason I went to the arena on Saturday was to check out the seating, so I spent a significant amount of time wandering around the rink, and up and down the levels. Here's the best way I can describe it: When players talked about playing in Mellon Arena they often talked about how they always felt like they were really close to the fans. With the set-up at the CEC, it feels like that from the fans' perspective. As I sat in the various seats around the arena (with unconditionally unobstructed sight lines), I felt like I would have a fantastic view of the game no matter where I sat. Maybe it was the mario-juice they made me drink on the way in, but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to see the expressions on the players' faces even if I'm sitting in the back row of the 200 level. And if I can't, the jumbotron is big enough to accost me with the details of the game in no uncertain terms. Oh ... and the seats are really comfortable with plenty of leg room. Airlines: take note!
As I wandered around the arena trying to find an appropriate exit point, I happened into one of the stairwells. I was greeted by a giant team picture from the 2004-2005 season (see what I did there? ;)). It turns out that the stairwells are the place to find pictures of teams from the entirety of the Pens' lifetime, complete with rosters and special notes. Beyond the various "interactive displays" that everyone has been talking about, there are random tributes to Pittsburgh's hockey history found throughout the arena. If you think stuff is cool, you'll like this stuff!
So ... enough about me. What about you? Have you seen the arena? What did you like most? Least? (what?!) How incredibly excited are you that there are only a few dozen more sleeps to go until hockey season begins?