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Pictures of Mellon Arena


Attendance Figures










1998/1999 14.825
1997/1998 15.069
1996/1997 16.691
1995/1996 16.239
1994/1995 16.108
1993/1994 16.714


Your ticket and your wallet
Season Ticket $ (nhl-rank) Fan Cost  Index $
03/04 41.65 (18) 255.10 (13)
02/03 47.18 (8) 259.21 (9)
01/02 47.18 (7) 265.21 (8)
All statistics are property of Team Marketing Report, for further statistics and a league-overview follow the link below to my overview (all teams, now and the past, comparison to other leagues):

Tickets & Fan-Cost-Stats (and explanation)












































Information and visiting experience by (

The arena

The Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh is the oldest NHL-arena still in use (as of 2003/2004). The arena was opened on the 19th of September, 1961 and was called “Civic Center” at that time. The building kept this name until 1999, when the “Mellon Bank”, which has its headquarters right next door in the 2nd highest skyscraper of Pittsburgh, bought the naming-rights for 18 million dollars for the next 10 years. When the arena was planned it was not meant to become a hockeyarena, but the “Civic Light Opera”. Originally it seated 10.500 people, but today’s capacity, after several renovations over the course of time, is above 17.000 (16.958 for hockey). The addition of new seats had some disadvantages, too: the roof, which could be opened in the arena’s early years, cannot be opened any more.

During the first large NHL expansion wave in 1967 Pittsburgh was awarded its NHL franchise. Back then the team donned blue outfits nobody seems to remember these days, but many years later the team switched to the black-gold-colouring the other pro teams in town already used (the Pittsburgh Steelers in football and the Pirates in baseball). At first the Boston Bruins protested, as their colours were the same, but eventually the Penguins were able to switch. But while the Pirates and Steelers call new arenas their homes, the Penguins have to do with the oldest building in town and are therefore quiet challenged when it comes to generating revenue.

Due to its outward appearance the Mellon Arena is also known as “The Igloo”; by now this name is used for some sections and clubs in the arena as well. A typical case of the financial exploitation of a cult.

For years the Mellon Arena has been the site of fantastic events. Without a doubt the two championships of the Penguins stand out of the crowd here. In 1991 and 1992 the team was able to capture the Cup two times in a row. In 1991 the team around superstar Mario Lemieux defeated the Minnesota North Stars in six games and a year later the Chicago Blackhawks were swept in the finals. In addition to these sport highlights the venue has also hosted concerts by the Beatles (1964) and Elvis Presley (1973). Additionally the arena was used for the filming of 1995`s “Sudden Death”, an average action movie with Jean-Claude van Damme. In the movie terrorists plan to blow up the building, the Pens are playing the Hawks in the Stanley Cup Finals and the mascot, icy, gets murdered. Surprisingly the mascot is still alive and well today…

The inside of the arena is not separated into different levels as one knows it from most other arenas. Just the far ends are separated into upper and lower levels but it seems that these upper levels have been added later on. Due to these additions the view is somewhat obstructed from some lower seats in the end sections as the upper level is hanging above and the jumbotron cannot be seen anymore. Additional displays (see picture page) have been added so that you don’t miss too much from those seats though. It isn’t perfect but there weren’t any other options, one has to think (or hope).

The view onto the ice is really well from all seats, actually it is far above NHL-standards as no rows of executive suits separate the upper and lower sections. This means that everybody sits closer to the ice (at least everybody who shows up these days) and you can even feel pretty close when you are seated in the highest rows. The seats seem to prove that Americans were not as heavy (or should one say “fat”) as they appear to be today as there is less space than in newer arenas. Even though the concourses clearly show the age of the building the prices do not reflect prices of the past. A beer for 6.50$ is just outrageous. All the other unhealthy stuff you expect to find is way to expensive as well, but it is wise not to buy too much anyways so that you don’t fit into your seat anymore.

The low number of executive suits and the old building itself are the top reasons why the Penguins claim to be close to bankruptcy all the time. As a result of this the team is run on a sub-par budget and the results on the ice are a consequence of this (while I am translating this the team has currently not win in  18 games and lost 14 in a row at home). Attendance-figures have dropped dramatically with many games just drawing in the neighbourhood of 10-12.000 these days. The official head count is often far below 10.000 and even derbies against the Flyers don’t result in a full house any more. Ticket-prices are nothing special for NHL-standards; I would recommend seats far up on the straights, as they are rather cheap (if there is something like cheap in the NHL) and offer the best view in the house. If you wish you can order tickets in advance by using ticketmaster ( When you arrive at the arena you can pick up your tickets at the “Will Call Window”, which is usually window # 10.

The small and old jumbotron some might still remember has been replaced some years ago. The lightshow prior to the game is nothing exciting but proves that the facility management is still trying to get the best out of the building.

You can also find a fan-shop inside the arena (also open during normal shopping hours) where you can get NHL merchandise for the exorbitant high prices one knows. Most articles in the store circle around Mario Lemieux, the owner/star of the team. The only thing you get for free is a small game-day magazine, which it at least 60% advertisement. It isn`t really good, but in other towns they charge you a couple of dollars for the same crap.

Parking is available all around the arena & parking is expensive. I would recommend you to leave your car at your hotel (if you are staying right in town) or to park a bit away from the arena. Nothing is really far away from each other in Pittsburgh, which has a rather small downtown-area. Also don’t bring your Flyers-jersey as I did, at least don’t if you don’t want to be harassed by the locals…


Tips for visitors  

Pittsburgh isn’t really that big, which limits the number of potential highlights for sightseeing dramatically. Downtown Pittsburgh is where the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River meet each other and form the Ohio River. The most interesting building in town (besides the rink) is the “US Steel Tower” (256 meters high), which is rather close to arena. The same can be said about the headquarters of the Mellon Bank (221 meters). The whole downtown area is easy to grasp and you can walk through it all within 20 minutes. After the game you can choose from a large variety of sport bars, where you can get good food for really reasonable prices (for example the “Sports Rock Café” at Smallman Street). I would also recommend you to shop a lot of clothes, as, just as in the rest of Pennsylvania, no taxes are added. Visit “Kaufmann’s” where they should be able to deal with all the wishes you might have…



The Mellon Arena is a really good arena, for European standards. Obviously it cannot compare to many of the new buildings other teams have erected (or that have been erected by richer towns for them). The Penguins have to continue to work and beg for a new building unless they don´t want to be relocated at the end of the day. Even though attendance is down and the building isn’t the best around I would still recommend any short trip to Penguins, where you can easily spend one or two nice days, catch a game and have seen it all. 



Seating Chart Mellon Arena:

Seating chart provided by


Getting there: 

...if you want to get there, get there first: 


Links to the  Team: (official homepage of the arena) (official homepage of the team) (get tickets for the Pens online)