PPG PAINTS ARENA
STADIUM DUDE’S NHL ARENA RANK: #11
- Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Opened 2010
- Capacity 18,387
- Games attended: 1
- Last visited: 2020
The Pittsburgh Penguins almost left town several times. Kansas City almost had them in 2008. Jim Basillie was going to move them to Kitchener, Ontario (likely two feet outside Toronto Maple Leafs territorial rights) in 2006. Over the course of the team’s first 40 years of existence, rumors tied the Penguins at various times to Las Vegas, Houston, Oklahoma City, Denver and Seattle. But in the end, they were able get a deal to replace the old Mellon Arena, and built a state-of-the-art facility that should keep them put for a while.
The architecture of the building is beautiful, with glass windows along one full side of the arena, and a plaza filled with towering trees surrounding it. It features all the money-making fan amenities needed to help a mid-market club thrive including 2,000 club seats, a fine-dining restaurant, a 4,000 square-foot team store, and one concession stand for every 158 people.
Like in the other Pittsburgh sports venues, you can get the holy trifecta of Pittsburgh blue collar eating here with Primanti Bros (killer sandwiches), Quaker Steak and Lube (wings) and Burgatory. Smokestack BBQ adds another viable option. While Yuengling and Iron City are ubiquitous, you can also find good Pittsburgh craft beer from North County Brewery, Church Brew Works and Southern Tier. And strangely, PPG Paints Arena joins the Honda Center as one of the only two NHL venues where one can’t get a Coke or Pepsi; RC Cola pours here.
The gold, grey and black seats are the most comfortable in the league; in some cases, they’re 24-inches wide. The Highmark Wall of Champions celebrates hockey in the region. There’s a cool Kids Zone offering diversions for youngsters. On the north side of the building are stunning views of the Pittsburgh skyline. And whenever the home team scores, chandeliers viewable from the outside turn bright red, letting passers-by know the good word.
The on-ice product has been particularly good, as the team seems to transition from superstar to superstar. Fan support is strong as witnessed by over 633 straight sellouts that only recently ended.
On the downside, the downtown area around the rink isn’t particularly built up with bars and restaurants: there are a couple of good ones, but choice is lacking. Fans aren’t known for being the loudest in the league. There are a couple of bottlenecks in the concourse design that one wouldn’t expect from a modern rink. And if you’re not staying in a nearby hotel, access can be a little tricky.
Those negative points listed aside, PPG Paints Arena follows in the tradition of Heinz Field and PNC Park. It’s another fantastic facility for a team sporting Pittsburgh’s black and gold.