New Highmark Stadium welcomes ice skaters
Brian Surmacz of the South Side takes a lap around the newly opened Penguins Pond at the Highmark Stadium in the South Side on Friday.
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The little boy pitched and plunged over the new ice in the "Penguins Pond" at Highmark Stadium on the South Side, his black skates scrabbling for a grip as his father scooted him toward the exit for a brief rest.
At long last, Nello Torriero, 3, was skating like a big boy in the general direction of his much-followed older brother, 5-year-old Luca, said his father, Gino Torriero, who also served as the stadium construction project's general contractor. Nello could hardly wait for the rink to open Friday afternoon for the first time, his father said.
"He was excited all day," Mr. Torriero said.
The Highmark Stadium rink, which will be open to the public daily through Jan. 13, will feature youth and adult hockey in addition to public skating.
It is a collaboration among the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 84 Lumber and Highmark Stadium. The $10.2 million stadium is the new home of the Riverhounds and Pittsburgh Passion and will officially open this spring.
Penguins Pond will operate from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekends. Admission for public skating will be $7 and rental skates will be $3.
The Penguins operated an outdoor rink at SouthSide Works last year and a rink on the North Shore in 2010.
On Friday, fresh green turf peeked from beneath the special upside-down egg-carton material that keeps the turf from being crushed. Over that, Styrofoam and plywood formed a base for a system of coils that, much like a refrigerator, funneled coolant back and forth across the rink. The ice formed by the coils is shaved mostly smooth by a Zamboni machine and kept cold on warm days by pumping the coolant through a nearby "chiller," according to 32-year-old Adam Parris, project architect on the stadium job.
The Styrofoam absorbs some water when it gets wet, causing the ice to buckle slightly in spots, but skaters didn't seem to mind.
Sannidhi Srinavasan, a 19-year-old computer science major at Carnegie Mellon University, said she definitely plans to skate again soon after a successful first time on the ice Friday. She even briefly let go in the middle of the rink and actually skated free, she said.
"I don't have the best balance, but I had more balance than I thought," she said. "So it's possible."
First Published December 15, 2012 12:11 am