Arena will lose Mellon name in August

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Say goodbye to Mellon Arena.

The iconic silver-domed venue will lose its name when the Penguins officially move into the Consol Energy Center on Aug. 1.

That's when a naming rights agreement between BNY Mellon and the Penguins will expire. At that point, the Igloo most likely will reclaim the name it had for much of the first 38 years of its life: the Civic Arena.

"There hasn't been a lot of discussion but I imagine we'll begin referring to it again as the Civic Arena," said Mary Conturo, executive director of the city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority, the building's owner.

The arena has carried Mellon's name since 1999, when the former Mellon Financial Corp., which merged with Bank of New York in 2007, reached a 10-year naming rights deal with the Penguins.

That agreement expired after the 2008-2009 season. The two sides worked out a one-year extension to keep the Mellon name on the arena until the Consol Energy Center opened.

Lane Cigna, a BNY Mellon spokeswoman, acknowledged in an e-mail that the arena without Mellon "will take some getting used to," even if the building might be in its last days.

"We're really proud of the long history we had and the very positive relationship we had with the team," she said in an interview. "This is also an exciting time for the city. There's going to be a brand-new facility."

As part of the agreement, Mellon employees passed out programs before Penguins games - 8.5 million over 534 games, to be exact. That, too, will end with the move to Consol. In exchange for the employees' work, the team donated more than $250,000 to charity.

Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan noted that it isn't unusual for arenas or stadiums to change names as one sponsorship ends and another begins.

"When you step back, it's more of a common sense [move to replace the Mellon name]. The building won't be operated. The naming rights agreement is with us. We won't be there anymore," he said.

Like some Soviet-style purge, with the agreement's expiration, all traces of the Mellon name will be erased from the building. Ms. Cigna said some Mellon signs will be donated to the Senator John Heinz History Center for posterity.

Ms. Conturo said she doubted the SEA would seek another naming rights partner for the 48-year-old building with a leaky roof and perhaps a date with the wrecking ball. If Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, county Executive Dan Onorato and the Penguins get their way, the Igloo, as it is known informally, will be demolished to make way for redevelopment.

"I think the sense is that it's not likely that someone would pay significant money for naming rights at this point," Ms. Conturo said. "I think we'll continue to explore all revenue opportunities. But at this point, that doesn't seem like a likely one."

As for whether the SEA will formally identify the building as the Civic Arena come August, well, that depends. "I don't know if there's any old signage around or not," Ms. Conturo said.


Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.


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