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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tour Of The Consol Energy Center

(View of the Igloo from the new Consol Energy Center)

Yesterday, I was one of a lucky few members of the media to get a tour of the new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Consol Energy Center is going to be an amazing facility and it's amazing to see how far along the process is compared to the pile of dirt it used to be.

The tour was led by CEO Ken Sawyer and VP of Communications Tom McMillan. I must say, both are very nice guys and were very accommodating.

The tour started off by signing my life away since the building is very much an active construction zone.

We were then boarded onto shuttles and taken in the back entrance to the new building. Representatives from all the media outlets in Pittsburgh were in town and everyone was more than impressed with the building.

After a short walk through the back area of the arena, we emerged into the ice level area.

It took me a minute to realize where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. I was sent to take pictures for a slideshow on, but I couldn't pull the trigger.

The place is gorgeous. Workers were all over the building tending to their projects, forcing Sawyer to pretty much yell the entire time to explain what everything was.

I wasn't paying much attention to what Sawyer had to say about the building because one of our reporters was there to handle that, so I started to wander around a little bit and explore.

The concrete slab for the ice surface was brought in a few weeks ago and now the plywood base is being constructed.

It's a very weird/cool sight to see how a rink is constructed from nothing to what we all know one looks like.

There are no seats in place yet, but the concrete rows are already in place.

I took a moment to just stand there and imagine hearing the goal horn go off and here the building erupt and feel the concrete rumble to it's core.

Playoff time will be fantastic in the building, no question.

I couldn't help but stand at the one end of the ice, where Marc-Andre Fleury will be protecting his net, and stare out at the other end.

From the rink area, we moved into the locker room area and I don't think I've ever seen anything like it.

The Pens' locker room is shaped like a giant egg, with the lockers around the outer walls.

According to Sawyer the chalkboards and video boards will be at the one end and a team logo will be in the middle of the floor.

As the players enter the building they will have a special changing room. The purpose of the room will be to change out of their suits and street clothes. From there the walk to the actual locker room is all of a few feet through an enormous recreation room.

That room will have couches and recreational games for the players. Televisions and the whole nine yards will be in the room to help the players relax and kill some time between periods and before games.

The shower area is huge too and there's a new steam room in that area.

Without a doubt, the entire team will be able to fit in that steam room and be comfortable.

We also toured the new concession areas and concorses. All are much bigger and wider than the current amenities at the Mellon Arena.

There are conference rooms and party rooms at the new building. Pretty much whatever you want to do at this new building is available.

The conference rooms are all going to be hooked up with display screens and everything to assist in presentations.

The Consol Energy Center has it all.

The luxury suites are just plain disgusting too. The whole tour fit beyond comfortably in a mock suite that was already finished. Each had a couple rows of seats and offer great views of the ice.

Honestly, I don't think there will be a bad seat in the whole building.

We went up to the upper-deck and even from up there, the view was impressive. Sawyer said that there will not be an obstructed view seat in the entire building.

Anyone who has sat under the overhangs at Mellon Arena knows what that's like. I spent one game in the last row under an overhang up there. Had a great time, but was a little disappointed in the seats.

My favorite picture that I took is this one.

That's my feet planted at what will be center ice.

Needless to say, I got chills standing there and looking around again trying to imagine the seats filled to capacity with fans chanting "Let's Go Pens!!"

Only a few more months until that happens and hopefully the Pens can open the building in style with another Stanley Cup ceremony and banner raising.

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