Mellon Arena Should Not Be Lost

As some of you may know, one of the most high profile Pittsburgh real estate conundrums in recent years has to do with the fate of Mellon Arena, a beloved local icon since 1961 and home of the Pittsburgh Penguins since 1967. That’s a long time. The arena is a unique piece of architecture, different from all other sports complexes. From the Mellon Arena website:

The Mellon Arena is famous for its revolutionary architectural design which features the largest retractable, stainless steel dome roof in the world–170,000 total square feet and 2,950 tons of Pittsburgh steel. The roof, which has no interior supports, is divided radially into eight leaves and is supported by a huge cantilever arm that arches 260 feet.

That dome is a part of Pittsburgh, a landmark, instantly recognizable as you approach downtown Pittsburgh by car or foot or as you gaze at it from above. Everyone seems to agree that the brand new Consol Energy Center, finished in 2010 and meant to replace the aging arena, is a fantastic, amazing new home for the Pens, but it certainly does not seem as special as Mellon Arena did.

Now that the new home of the Pens is complete and ready to go a debate has raged about what to do with “the Igloo”, as it is affectionately called. One party wants to tear it down, to move on, to make way for progress. The other wants to preserve the arena, to honor it for what it was. It seems that the former party might win and that Mellon Arena might go the way of the wrecking ball.

The folks over at the Pensblog have unearthed a touching idea that might serve as a compromise. The Consol Energy Center stands right across the street from Mellon Arena. Were Mellon Arena to remain upright, it would be visible from one of the new venue’s large picture windows. The suggestion is to etch an outline of Mellon Arena in the picture window, so that even when it’s gone, the Igloo will still be there, visible to all.

We think this is a great idea. It would go a long way towards making the Consol Energy Center more than just a geat venue – it would help to make it special. Like the Igloo was. We hope this idea will be considered by those in charge.

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