A Trip To Mecca: Our Tour of the Consol Energy Center [VIDEO]


In recent years, there have been times where a friend called and said they had an extra ticket to a Pens game, mere hours before the puck dropped.  We'd weigh the pros and cons.  We'd bring the cold weather and Pittsburgh traffic into the equation and decide to turn it down.
Not anymore.
The Consol Energy Center is a luxury the city of Pittsburgh has not known.
The only word to describe being inside this place is "surreal."
We'll try to walk the fine line in this post between trying to relay what we felt and saw…
and not overdoing it so you resent us.

We were lucky enough to get a tour of the Consol Energy Center on Thursday afternoon.
And we want to share what we saw.  The video in HD is at the end of this post.
If it seems like this post is just jumping around, it's because it's impossible to bottle up everything we saw and learned and then turn around and try to relay it in an organized fashion.
We entered the building at the American Eagle Entrance on the corner of 5th Avenue and Washington.  The Penguins were emphatic in saying that they just aren't sure which gate will be the main entrance hub on gamenights.
As soon as you walk through the doors, you begin to feel how enormous the building is.  One of the interesting notes about the Consol Energy Center is that it is built into the side of the hill.  So the first thing that hits you when you enter the AE gate are the stairs and escalator.
0% chance of anyone taking those staircases up.
On the way up the staircases are huge puck-shaped screens.
They will light up red when the Pens score.
Instead of going up the staircases, we started our tour at the bottom level, where the Penguins' offices reside.
They have this sick wall of all the record holders. You'll want something like this in your house.
After that, it was straight to the ice.
We came out the Penguins runway and right onto the bench.
Didn't seem real.  It still doesn't.
Your eyes are immediately drawn to the roof, where the crown jewel awaits:
Pictures and words don't do it justice.
After everyone on the tour picked their jaws up off the floor, we walked back in toward the locker room.
Along the path leading from the Pens locker room to the bench is something called "Suite 66."
This is basically the room where you realize how much better of a person, hockey player, etc. 66 is than you.
Suite 66 is in the video at the bottom of this post.
Check it out, because 99% of us will never see it again.
After taking that in, we entered the Penguins locker room/players lounge/trainer area.
Some interesting points:
— The Penguins have a TV and a whiteboard in their locker room. They did not have that in the Mellon.
They had to go into different rooms.
— The ceiling in the locker room is a tribute to the Mellon Arena.
Pens didn't know that the architects were going to do that.
— The players lounge is sick.
The Penguins talked at length at everything being first-class.  And it is.
— The training room and weight room are state-of-the-art.
Players now have a place to sprint before games.
In the Mellon Arena they ran on the concrete and played Frogger with Aramark carts rolling through their sprint area.
— We toured the visitors' locker room, which is almost as good as the home locker room.

One of the best things about all the concourses is the amount of natural light that comes into the building.
Just makes things better.  This can really be taken in at the Pens Gear store at Trib Total Media entrance.
The Pens Gear store itself has been made over.
There are satellite Pens Gear stores on all levels of the arena.

Best part of Consol is that there is two levels.
No matter where you're sitting, you'll be walking DOWN to your seat when you initially get there.
The seating in the stands is actually how it should be.
This picture below was taken at eye level with someone sitting straight up in front of us.
Not seen is this picture is the immense amount of leg room.
It is hard not to get excited about the lower level seats.
But you can't call them the best.  The upper level is just as good.

The suites were locked, but nothing we didn't already know about them that we didn't cover in the first tour.
Chances are no one that writes for or reads this blog is going to be sitting in them anyway.

Probably our favorite place in the building. Spectacular views.
The pic above is taken from section 206.   Can't remember the row.  Doesn't matter.
The steps will seem steep at first, but they're really not.
Honestly, we wanted to find something wrong with the place.  And we just could not find it.
The steepness of the steps was going to be this sticking point.  But once you're walking on them, you're fine.
Here's a shot from the upper level of seating with a person in the seat in front of us.
If you watch the video, you hear Adam remark, after he finally gets it out of his excited stuttering mouth, that he can't even tell anyone is in front of him.
Upper level is going to be a lot of fun for more than just the sick sightlines.
The real talk of the upper level will be the Brew Pub/Brewhouse/can't remember the name area.
Derek taking picture of little boy on Center Avenue.
This area is a massive area that will no question become a gathering point.
It overlooks Mellon. Surreal view.
If NASA had this room, Challenger wouldn't have exploded.
All of this new technology is pretty much new hat to the Pens' media people, compared to what was at Mellon.

Shero's box.
He can watch Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre, and Wheeling simultaneously.

— Doesn't seem to be a firm place for smokers yet. That should be interesting.
View from the Media Level:
There's no good way to end this post except for these videos: