HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Mellon Arena…oh, how you will be missed!

With the Pens in the midst of another playoff run, and since this is the last season ever at Mellon Arena, I thought I’d share some of my shots of the historic Pittsburgh landmark.

Built in 1961 for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Orchestra, the $22M structure was the world’s first largest indoor sports arena with a retractable roof.  It has played host to multiple concerts, basketball, tennis, boxing, wrestling, and soccer matches, with some notable concerts being the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Queen, Elvis Presley and the Beatles.  The Penguins began playing in the Arena in 1967, when they were one of 6 new hockey franchises to be added to the NHL. (wikipedia)

But this is information you can get off any website.  What you CAN’T find on a website is the Mellon Arena aka the Igloo aka The House that Lemieux built, experience.  Now, anyone from Pittsburgh will know what I am talking about.  However, for those of you who aren’t, or those of you who have been to the Arena but never to a Penguins game, here’s what you can expect, at least for another month and half or so, before the Pens move across the street to the newly built Consol Energy Center.

What you can’t read on a website is how when you walk in, you immediately get inundated with the smell of every fried stadium food you can imagine.  The Arena is so small, that the smell of hot dogs, nachos, fries, sausages and chicken fingers just overwhelms you, and you will find that you can still smell it on you two days and four showers later.  Speaking of the limited size of the concourse of the Arena, the only place that I have ever been to that is worse is Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, and that is only because they only have one concourse for all 20,000 fans.  Mellon Arena is a bit better, as it does have two concourses, however I feel like the cowbells that people ring during the game should be distributed so we can all be herded in the intermission.  “‘Scuse me, sorry about that, whoops, my fault, I’m sorry, comin’ through” is pretty much the dialogue that you hear as you meander through the crowds.

What you can’t find on a website is all the different people who you see game after game.  There is “Steel City Man”, dressed in armor; there is the super fan who looks strangely like Hulk Hogan; there is the girl who always wears a hockey mask and pajamas; there is the kid who puts on a show during the nightly playing of “Cotton Eye Joe” in the Igloo club; and, this time of year, there are clip on beards, painted on beards, glued on beards and of course real beards, all in support of concept of “playoff beards”.  Men, women and children all partake, some better than others!

And of course the last thing you can’t get off a website is the sheer awesomeness of watching Sidney Crosby and his Penguins play.  The electric atmosphere when Sid or Geno touches the puck, you feel like it’s going to end up in back of the net every time.  When the opponent has a breakaway, you have faith that Marc Andre Fleury will come up with a save reminiscent of the one he had against Alex Ovechkin in game 7 of last year’s conference quarterfinals, or against Dan Cleary on the breakaway in game 6 of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals.  Just being there, taking it all in, and knowing that you are watching one of the greatest players to ever play the game, it’s just an experience like no other.

Good luck in the second round of the playoffs against the Canadiens Pens!

LET’S GO PENS!!! LET’S GO PENS!!!  LET’S GO PENS!!!

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3 responses

  1. Sounds like fun! I’ve been to a couple preds games here in Nashville and they were definitely exciting atmospheres. The photos of the area are awesome.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:54 am

  2. JJ

    Fantastic series of shots of the arena and a wonderful write up clearly with your passion for the pens and the arena showing

    May 1, 2010 at 6:15 am

  3. Pingback: From Schenley Casino to Forbes Field to CONSOL Energy – A Tale of Pittsburgh’s Sports Arenas « HDR Exposed

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