After seeing the dilapidated old Mellon Civic Arena a few weeks ago during Prospect Camp, I was eager to compare the old home to their new one.

WOW.

Here is a 96 photo slideshow of our tour of the greatest sports arena/field/park/stadium in North America:

Updated with rough video from the Penguin’s bench. Commentary provided by Tom McMillan, tour guide extraordinaire.

Updated with a short, rough video of the exterior of Suite 66

  • The first few pictures show the entrance from the 5th Avenue entrance – an 80 foot difference from the Centre Avenue side. There will be three “pucks” that will show LED messages and other entertainment and will also turn red when a Penguin goal is scored.
  • Suite 66 is impressive beyond all belief – Mario donated the miniatures of all of his personal trophies he has won to be used in the decorations of the lounge. His 500 goal stick, 600 goal stick, and even his 5 goals 5 ways sticks are all located in there as well. Unfortunately, Suite 66 is more than likely not available to the public and is reserved for the big time clients.
  • The seats are comfortable, spacious, and not one seat in the entire house is obstructed by anything. A small child sitting behind a 6’4” man will still be able to see the ice with the way the seats are designed. Very impressive.
  • The scoreboard is insane – I was blown away by the high definition of the scoreboard while the techies were playing the Blue Ray Version of Star Trek. I was later told that, “That wasn’t even high definition. That was Blue Ray which is crap definition compared to what we will have eventually.” Pictures and video don’t do the screen justice.
  • The open concourses were designed similar to the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota, home of the Wild. It is also similar to Columbus’ Nationwide Arena for those of you that have made that trip as well. No matter where you are in the arena – you can see the scoreboard and in many cases the ice. Amazing.
  • The Penguin’s locker room is stunning. No wonder Paul Martin turned down the Wild, Islanders, Kings and whoever else to come play here. The locker room is a work of art. The ceiling was designed to honor Mellon Civic Arena without bringing back the horrifying memories of having to play there.
  • The players lounge is enormous. It is probably as big as the offensive zone on the ice for comparison. Reclining chairs, couches, fully stocked (healthy) snack bar, drinks (non-alcoholic), bubble hockey and over 10 flat screen TVs adorn the room among other things.
  • The training rooms are absolutely state of the art as well. There are 3 whirlpools and a water treadmill – swim endlessly against a current in a small pool. There were easily 30 elliptical machines and a running track, agility and ladder area and more.
  • The visitors locker room at Consol Energy Center is larger than the Penguin’s locker room at Mellon Civic Arena. The biggest complaint from opposing players about Mellon Civic Arena was about the Visitors locker room. According to Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters, this locker room is much better than the visitors locker room in Washington (another brand new arena).
  • Even sitting in the last row in the Arena, I still had a great view of the ice. Take a look at the pictures. Even the furthest seat has a perfect view.
  • Brewhouse bar area is going to be a high traffic spot according to Tom McMillan. “People from the 100 level will be coming up here for this view and to hang out in this area.” All of the concession stands look great and there is a ton of them located around the concourse to ensure there won’t be tons of long lines.
  • No more choke points in the hallways to cause people traffic to slow to a crawl similar to the traffic outside the Squirrel Hill Tunnels everyday.
  • There are tons of restrooms EVERYWHERE! No more waiting in line for an hour and missing important events on the ice.
  • The control room is beyond state of the art and one KDKA media member quipped “This is much better than we have back at our station.”
  • 128 seats in the media level means there will be unprecedented coverage of your team in the future.
  • I even snuck a picture of the CEC blueprints if there are any construction guys out there that can make sense of it.