Consol Energy Center raves from Penguins fans
Janel Capezzuto from Apollo cheers on the Penguins in their first preseason game against the Red Wings at Consol Energy Center.
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It was a perfect start for Penguins fans attending the first exhibition hockey game in Consol Energy Center Wednesday.
They jumped up when center Mike Comrie scored within two minutes of the start of the game. And then they settled back into the 18,087 new-and-improved seats to watch the replay on a large high-definition scoreboard screen.
One after another, fans hailed the new arena with its easier access, its open sight lines and its wide concourses as fitting for a team ranked among the best in the National Hockey League.
Dan Novakowski, 40, of Robinson, a season-ticket holder for 13 years, and his wife, Dani, have seats in Section 118, five rows back from the ice. Before the game, Novakowski and a friend, Sammy Schrmack, 17, of Shaler, like to go down to the glass and watch the players warm up during the skate-around.
"I love how close we are to the ice," Novakowski said. "They've moved the entrance for the Zamboni from behind the goal to off to the side, so we're down a little bit lower.
"And the glass is new, so there aren't a lot of puck marks on it yet. We can actually see through it right now."
Novakowski sang the praises of the openness of the seating area, as well as the concourses. And even though he and his wife got engaged at center ice of Mellon Arena during an intermission of a Chicago Blackhawks game Feb. 10, 1996, he said he doesn't hold any sentimental attachment to the facility.
"This is just so much nicer. It's a lot better experience than the old arena," he said. "I'm not going to be sad to see it torn down. We have this place now, and we need to help build the area up."
Chris Omasits, 29, of McCandless, was seated high above Novakowski in the last row of Section 227. His family has had season tickets for 14 years -- most of that time spent in the upper reaches of Section F-32 of Mellon Arena.
"It was high up, but the arena had unique views," he said. "We still felt close to the ice, even though we were high."
But there were issues. The roof hung low above their heads, there were railings in front of them, and they had to scale several flights of stairs to get to the seats.
Now, with the concourse directly behind their seats, grabbing an order of nachos does not require a time-consuming trek and a long line.
"The concourses are wide open, like we're in a shopping mall," Omasits said. "And there are more choices with concessions."
There were some minor complaints. Gina Booritch, 44, of McDonald, has been a season-ticket holder for five years. At Mellon Arena, she was in Section E-12, Row L. Now she's in Section 209, Row Q.
"Our seats were more to the side in the corner," she said. "I would have liked to have stayed on the corner, but I think these are good seats.
"We like that we're close to the bathrooms and close to the concession stand. We came right up the escalator and right to our seats. The whole atmosphere here is better."
Susan Hoover, 44, of Butler, sits in Section 222. At Mellon Arena, she was in Section E, tight under the overhanging Section F.
"We couldn't even see the top of the scoreboard where I sat. We had to duck down to see it," she said. "I did get a little bit of an upgrade this year, but there doesn't seem to be a bad seat in here. Everything's easy to find. I think it's beautiful."
She did admit to having some fond memories from Mellon Arena.
"It's always going to be something we look back on," she said. "But I'm sure there will be new memories here."
First Published September 23, 2010 12:10 am