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A brief tour of Consol Energy Center - 04-01-10

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

We'll admit it. We're a little upset at the prospect of having to leave Mellon Arena. It feels like a second home to anyone who spends a significant amount of time there. Granted, that second home has rats, asbestos, leaks and distinctive odors in every nook and cranny. But they're our rats, asbestos, leaks and distinctive odors dangit.

Selfishly, we were less than eager to leave the press box at Mellon Arena. Sure, it's lacking in modern ammentities like high definition televisions. Heck, it's lacking in regular ammenities like... oh... space. But we love the view. Compared to some of the newer buildings in places like Washington or Philadelphia, the press box view at Mellon Arena is tremendous. You're high enough to watch a play develop up the ice, but you're not up high enough to violate a no-fly zone like you are in Washington.

To say the least, we were skeptical the press box at Consol Energy Center would be as good as the one at Mellon Arena in that one single aspect.

But that was before we went on a tour of the building yesterday. Here's some photos of our brief inspection of the facility.

-This is the entrance along Centre Avenue across the street from Mellon Arena:

-The area we've pointed out is expected to be a team store. It will be like PenStation, but you'll actually have room to walk around and buy stuff. Right now, in PenStation, even if you go in on a non game day, it's tough to make your way around without bumping around into racks of Petr Sykora t-shirt jerseys on clearance. This new store looks like you could park Mike Rupp's monster truck in it.

-This is ice level:

-Try to imagine Chris Pronger in the place of that road cone, only slower.

-The area pointed out in this photo is the first row of permanent seats:

-Below that point will be moveable racks/rows of seating.

-One of many "blocks" of speakers:

-The skeleton of the scoreboard which is in the midst of construction:

-Erik Heasley, communications coordinator for the Penguins and all around snazzy dresser, is standing in front for the sake of perspective. He's listed as a generous 5-foot-8.

-The tunnel leading from the area the Penguins bench is to the team's locker room and offices:

-That clock either indicates how much time is left until the building is due to be completed or the last time the power play scored. We forgot to ask. Sorry.

-This area is a walk way from the locker room to the bench:

-This area will have an area for high-end fans/clients of the team and presumably "Pierre" McGuire to interact and slap five with the players as the enter/depart the rink. The Oilers have a similar setup in Rexall Place.

-The team's locker room:

-The room will have an oval shape which is a rarity in the league.

-This will be some sort of therapy room for the Penguins:

-Weight/training room:

-Blue prints:

-This will be the media lounge/work room:

-Amazingly, even in this current state of disarray, its already infinitely nicer than it's counterpart at Mellon Arena.

-Here's the concourse on the first level:

-Not that it's any sort of amazing accomplishment, but the concourses here are so much wider than at Mellon Arena.

-Signs for many of the sections are already visible:

-The view from the top of the first level of the 100s:

-Just imagine that forklift as Kris Letang. Just more accurate at getting pucks on net. We would say it's fair to state this area slightly closer than being in the last row of a C level section in Mellon Arena.

-Throughout the concourse, there are already several high definition monitors already hanging from the wall:

-There are two levels of suites. This the view from the second level:

-For anyone who has been in a suite at Mellon Arena, the suites in Consol Energy Center are at least triple the size:

-No word yet if you get buckets of sealant or if you have to bring your own.

-The concourse on the second level:

-On up to the 300s. The view from the last row:

-Imagine that cherry picker as Mike Rupp. Only shorter.

(Note: the seats are covered in plastic due to the dust.)

-For the sake of comparison, here's the view from the last row of one of the F balconies at Mellon Arena:

-The concourse on the 300 level:

-One of the prime attactions to the new building the the view of the city's skyline from the west end of the building:

-Whoa...

-And they shouldn't take down Mellon Arena for a variety of reasons. This view is one of them:

-This is probably the most important bit of information to at least half of the fans in the building. We're never going to make anyone forget Bob Villa, but based on those individual pipe fittings on the wall, we're assuming there won't be trough urinals in the men's rooms of the new building:

-Ladies, we didn't check out your facilities. Even if it was still an active construction site, we didn't feel right walking into a ladies room to take photos. Call us old fashioned.

-This will be Ray Shero's view of the ice from his booth in the press box:

-That black square is a projection monitor. There are several hanging in front of the press box.

-And this will be our view of the ice:

-For comparison's sake, this is what we look at from our perch at Mellon Arena:

-This might be our favorite part of the tour. This is the view from concourse on the 100-level on the west end:

-The red brick structure outside is Epiphany Catholic Church.

-Overall, we're a lot more excited for the building today than we were yesterday morning before the tour. We were a little skeptical for our own selfish reasons, but it's pretty obvious the Penguins went to great length to make the facility beneficial to fans (and even us grimy media types) in every section.

-For more information on the technical thingamajigs going on in the building, check out Backteching, the cleverly named blog of Chris DeVivo, the Director of Media Technology for the Penguins. Essentially, he pretty much has more Reward Zone Points from Best Buy than anyone else in Pittsburgh.

-Also, check out this site set up by the Penguins which shows 3-D views from every section in the building.

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