Yes, it's game-day for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they take on the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks for a 8:00pm tilt on ROOT Sports. Yes, Chuck Kobasew is going to be on a line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz (why?). Yes, Beau Bennett will skate with Brandon Sutter and Matt D'Agostini in what should be a lethal third line.
Yes, it's preseason game number three, but no, this article isn't about these things or the game. It's about reflection.
The Pittsburgh Penguins front office has picked a developer to make use out of the ten acres where once was the Civic Arena (or Mellon Arena but Civic sounds better, don't you think?). McCormack Baron will be building around 400 houses and apartments, with space left over to add restaurants and storefronts. The new layout should be more appealing to the eyes than the parking lot it is now. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2015.
Penguins CEO David Morehouse explained the reason for picking McCormack Baron, "What we've seen is they have the know-how, they have the capacity and they have the shared vision of making sure that when they are doing development that there is some greater good."
Richard D. Baron (the Baron in McCormack Baron) said of Pittsburgh, "We think there's an energy in Pittsburgh now that more than twenty years ago when we started in the Hill, there was nothing to approach the kind of enthusiasm and excitement about Pittsburgh as there is today."
This news and the impending groundbreaking will be the epilog of the Civic Arena's book. Many Pens fans first game was inside the Civic Arena. Sidney Crosby began his NHL journey there. He gave us the lasting memory of popping Jose Theodore's water bottle in a shootout win over Montreal there. The current sellout streak the Penguins have started in 2007 whist they played at the Civic Arena. The place, while ugly, was loaded with memories.
Built in 1961 using almost 3,000 tons of Pittsburgh steel, the Civic Arena was the world's first sports staduim with a retractable roof. Granted, the devices for it ever worked right and the roof was closed forever in 1994, but a first is a first. Outside of hockey, the building hosted Michael Jackson for three sellout days in 1988 and Elvis Presley's final New year's Eve show in 1976. The Undertaker throwing Mankind off the Hell in a Cell (1998) happened there. Heck, the old dome was even a movie star appearing in Sudden Death and She's Out of My League.
So as the Penguins play the 'Hawks tonight and if you're with a group of friends or family, talk about your experiences in the Civic Arena. History is important because it let's us see how far we've come. Looking across the street at the CONSOL Energy Center and remembering seat hopping in the Civic Arena, should give you a barometer for how far the Penguins organization has come.
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