A fan’s unique idea could etch Mellon Arena in our memory

“Scratch their names on your fabled Cup!” said Penguins’ radio voice Mike Lange excitedly, moments after Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in 2009.  A Pittsburgh area fan, Matt Filip, has proposed a “scratch” of another kind in 2010 to honour the memory of the soon-to-be-demolished home rink of the team: an etching of Mellon Arena in a window of the Penguins’ new home, Consol Energy Center, that faces the site where the old rink sits.  Filip suggested the idea through his Twitter account, on Thursday evening and his well-received message was quickly re-tweeted by many other fans.

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The popular and influential “thepensblog“, wrote a Friday morning post about Filip’s idea and by the afternoon, Mark Madden, a radio personality from the flagship broadcasting station of Penguins’ games, promoted the suggestion on his show.  Filip has created a Facebook group, “Memorialize the Mellon Arena” as a means of garnering support for his proposed window etching.  By early Saturday morning, over 200 people had already joined the group.

Matt Filip proposes an etching of the perimeter of soon-to-be-demolished Mellon Arena in a facing window of the Penguins' new home, Consol Energy Center.

Many fans have probably been asking themselves if there have been official discussions on upholding the memory of Mellon Arena in the architecture of Consol Energy Center or by preserving actual items from within Mellon Arena.  Penguins’ senior vice-president of business and legal affairs Travis Williams told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that “[t]here are ways to preserve the memories without leaving the physical structure in place,” noting that one of the steel panels from Mellon Arena could be placed inside the Consol Energy Center’s new “Captain Morgan Club”, an upscale hockey-themed bar.

In early April, Bob Grove, the Penguins Radio Network host and committee member of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, told me in an e-mail that parts of Mario Lemieux’s dressing room stall, Arena seats, benches, boards, game-used equipment from the final home playoff game and a part of the cantilever that supports the domed roof, would all likely be put on permanent display at the Museum.

The ice was scraped off the Mellon Arena floor for the final time this past May and the Penguins began preparing for a new hockey season as well as the inauguration of the Consol Energy Center over the summer.  While several introductory events have already taken place to orient and welcome fans and to give thanks to construction workers who built the new arena, the fate of Mellon Arena was debated at the political level.  One Pittsburgh citizens’ group, “Reuse The Igloo” wanted the unique, all-steel domed building completed in 1961, preserved as an historic site.

Finally this past Thursday, the Sports and Exhibition Authority voted unanimously in favour of plans to demolish Mellon Arena to clear the land for residential and commercial redevelopment, a vision supported by the Penguins.  Barring legal challenges or acceptance of innovative alternative proposals to preserve and maintain Mellon Arena, interior deconstruction work could begin by November and full demolition may go ahead next February.

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Photograph: Property of @PensBoozeAnger – TwitPic

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About the Author: Adrian Fung (@PenguinsMarch) contributes game reports, opinions, analysis and features, mostly about the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has covered the World Hockey Summit, Kraft Hockeyville, World Junior Championship exhibition games, CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, MasterCard Memorial Cup and NHL Rookie Tournament for Hockey Independent. twitter.com/PenguinsMarch

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