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The new arena
October 19, 2010 - John Mehno
We're a month in and I'm still getting used to the Consol Energy Center.
For practices, the entrance is through the loading docks, and that's an interesting way to see any building. One wrong turn (and I've made it) and you're in the boiler room.
It's a huge upgrade over the Civic Arena, and it should be. The old place was built for the Civic Light Opera, with sports as an afterthought. It was also built for 13,000 seats and 1960-sized people. The new place is bigger and better and the sight lines were done with hockey in mind. There are a lot of comforts, most of which cost a lot of money. They've thoughtfully placed ATMs all over the building.
Not that you should care, but the media facilities are nice. The press box is huge, and the downstairs working room is much larger than its predecessor and convenient to the locker rooms. The game night entrance is right on Fifth Avenue, so that's handy, too.
Even though it's a move of just a couple of blocks, the neighborhood has changed. There are actual buildings across from the arena now. Paul Steigerwald looked into opening a sports bar/restaurant in the area, but decided against it. There just isn't much happening in the area on non-game nights. There's a good neighborhood-type bar (Shale's), a pizza place and a barbecue place (Mr. Ribbs) that have all been in place long before the arena opened. It will be interesting to see if anyone takes a chance with the vacant buildings along Fifth Avenue. I figure someone will take a chance with a loud sports bar.