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Consol Energy Center
Consol Energy Center

  Venue Resources  
Address 1001 Fifth Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone (412) 642-1800
Official Website
Weather
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Satellite View
Penguins Gear
  Calendar / Tickets  
Hotels, Dining & Deals in Pittsburgh

  The Facility  
Groundbreaking August 14, 2008
Opened 2010
Ownership
(Management)
Sports & Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County
(Pittsburgh Arena Operating LP/SMG)
Cost of Construction $321 Million
Arena Financing $15 million a year from the government for 30 years, $4.2 million a year from the Penguins. The Penguins and the government each also put up $15.5 million to start, reports the PittsburghTribute-Review.
Naming Rights CONSOL Energy Inc. will pay approximately $4 to $5 Million per year for 21 years.
Arena Architects HOK Sport
General
Contractors /
Construction Managers
ICON Venue Group /
PJ Dick/Hunt
  Other Facts  
Tenants Pittsburgh Penguins
(NHL) (2010-Present)
Population Base 2,200,000
On Site Parking TBD
Nearest Airport Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
Retired Numbers #21 Michel Briere
#66 Mario Lemieux
#99 Wayne Gretzky

Championships 1st

1991
2nd

1992
3rd

2009

  Seating  
Capacity 18,087
Luxury Suites 66 Suites
Club Seats 1,950
Basketball 19,000
End Stage 14,536
Boxing 19,758
  Attendance History  
Season  Total  Capacity Change
1992-93 660,290 95% 3.2%
1993-94 685,919 99% 3.9%
1994-95 386,599 95% -43.6%
1995-96 675,147 97% 74.6%
1996-97 684,322 98% 1.4%
1997-98 617,900 86% -9.7%
1998-99 607,825 85% -1.6%
1999-00 633,199 88% 4.2%
2000-01 655,937 96.7% 6.2%

2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
641,615 604,798 486,961 None

2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
647,975 673,395 700,137 695,997

2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
700,211 797,739 761,224 447,560

2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
763,344

1994-1995 - Attendance for 24 games due to NHL lockout.
2004-2005 - NHL lockout
1992-2010 - Attendance figures are for Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pa.
2012-2013 - Attendance for 24 games due to NHL lockout.

Sources: Mediaventures

Consol Energy Center

The Penguins' plan for a new home includes much more than just a place to play hockey.

Representatives from the Penguins, HOK Construction, Economics Research Associates and Urban Design Associates introduced plans for a new arena and a plan to revitalize the area surrounding the team's current home, Mellon Arena.

"When Mario [Lemieux] and his group acquired the team [in 1999], they also were given a written promise that by June of 2002 - three years hence - there would be a financial plan [for a new arena] in place," said Ken Sawyer, president of Lemieux Group LP, the franchise's holding company. "That date is coming upon us nowŠThat's why we're here today. To really walk you through all the work that we have done, because this is very, very important to us.

"We have invested over $11 million so far in this project. That's an enormous sum for an operation our size, but we view a new arena as absolutely essential to our long-term viability."

The team and its representatives have been researching possible spots for a new building for the better part of the last year, after concluding that a refitting of Mellon Arena would cost just as much as building a new structure. The most favorable site for a new rink is on the former St. Francis Hospital site directly across from the Penguins' current home. Lemieux Group LP purchased the abandoned site nearly two years ago.

"Very quickly we realized that could be an excellent site for our new arena," said Sawyer. "We took advantage of that opportunity to acquire it."

Plans placed the proposed 18,000 seat building between Centre Avenue, Washington Place and Fifth Avenue, slightly to the south of Mellon Arena. The Epiphany Church, one of several historical buildings in the area, would not be affected by possible construction, although several other buildings along Fifth Avenue could be.

"We thought we had a great opportunity to take advantage of [the church] as sort of an iconic piece of architecture that we could use to actually make the arena even a stronger idea than just a stand alone building," said HOK's Patrick Lempka. "We also felt like we had the opportunity to be responsible citizens in terms of making sure that building always remained. We also felt that we were being civically responsibleŠto help revitalize the Fifth Avenue corridor. There are opportunities to create retail and office buildings along that edge.

"We were very excited about the notion of better pedestrian connections than the existing arena has," Lempka continued. "This building comes down and engages into downtown."

The building's two entrances - on the Centre and Fifth Avenue sides - stretch over a grade change of no less than 40 feet. Fans entering from Fifth Avenue would travel up to a main concourse, and all ticket holders then enter the building's bowl area from a common concourse. Improved sight lines inside the arena were designed to enhance enjoyment of the game and other performances, and more open common spaces were integrated to allow better views of the game while fans travel to their seats.

"If you're in [Mellon Arena], you're fairly sealed off from what's happening in the bowl during an event," stated Lempka.

Estimated cost for the Pens' future home came in at $225 million, not including garage construction and other land assembly.

But where does that leave Mellon Arena and the 28 acres of land that it sits on? According to ERA's Patrick Phillips, the opportunities for economic development on the site are limitless.

"We've seen across the country that sports facilities can be important catalysts for urban redevelopment," he said. "This is a very compelling siteŠIt has a very unusual combination of size, adjacency to a major economic concentration, tremendous transit and transportation infrastructure, strong nearby institutions and neighborhoods and, really importantly, a substantial view amenity to downtown.

Phillips sees mixed-use development in the area's future, with residential, commercial and retail buildings integrated into the planning. A 265 room hotel, as well as 1,100 housing units for rent or sale, numerous stores, restaurants, office buildings, parking areas and open spaces are all possibilities.

"We can develop a system of street-level amenity and other kinds of activity," he stated. "Places like this that we see around the country that are very competitive - places like Mission Bay in San Francisco, Lower Downtown in Denver, the Seaport District in Boston - were all catalyzed by major public investments in convention centers, arenas, ballparks and the like."

Don Carter, UDA president, described how the new development could tie the Hill District - a portion of the city basically cut by the construction of the Civic Arena - with downtown once again.

"We certainly would like to provide a framework of streets rather than the suburban ring pattern that you have right now," said Carter. "We would like to replace this pattern of streetsŠwith a real urban grid.

"We would also like to respect and celebrate the history of this area. All the culture that was here in the lower Hill District at one time still exists in people's minds and hearts."

Carter noted that the extension and rebuilding of Wylie Avenue, historically the pipeline between the Hill District and downtown, was a major concern for the new layout. Low-density development - the residential portion of the plan - would sit highest atop the current sight, near the current Crawford Square development. Mid-rise office buildings with ground floor retail establishments would sit in the middle of the area, with larger buildings going up closer to the downtown area. Parking would be surrounded by buildings so as not to clutter the view.

Estimated cost for the development, which would take place over the course of 12-15 years, was put at $480 million, with the tax revenue generated from the area running around $25 million per year, a significant increase from the current $5 million being generated now. Funding would come from a combination of public and private investment.

"What we're talking about here is actually rebuilding a part of the city," said Carter, "creating a new downtown neighborhood in a sense that links both developments together."

Penguins' arena plan includes an Uptown renewal worth $500 million

Tuesday, March 12, 2002
By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The Penguins yesterday proposed a huge Uptown office/housing/retail development, costing more than $500 million, across Centre Avenue from a new $225 million hockey arena.

The ambitious project, which would demolish Mellon Arena, also includes a new hotel and a city park to be built over the Crosstown Expressway.

Team officials claim the development would provide 5,000 new jobs, housing for 2,500, $20 million in additional tax revenue and take at least 15 to 20 years to complete.

The central question of where the money would come from was left unanswered.

The development would sit on the 28 acres now occupied by 41-year-old Mellon Arena and its surrounding parking lots, said Ken Sawyer, president of the Lemieux Group, the team of investors headed by Penguins star Mario Lemieux that owns the Penguins.

"This is one of the greatest development sites in the United States," said Donald Carter, an architect with Urban Design Associates, who is working with the Penguins.

"It's near to public transportation and it lies in proximity to Downtown. It's an opportunity to rebuild a piece of the city that kind of went away," he said, referring to the mostly-black neighborhood of the Lower Hill that was demolished in the late 1950s to make way for the current arena.

The Penguins plan calls for extension of Wylie Avenue down the hill westward to form the spine of the redevelopment area.

As outlined by Sawyer, Carter and Patrick Phillips, president of Economics Research Associates of Washington, D.C., the proposed development would contain:

800 units of new rental housing just west of the current Crawford Square community.

300 new for-sale housing units.

Three to seven new office buildings, containing 1.1 million square feet.

200,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, mostly on the ground floors of the office buildings or in new two-story buildings.

A 264-room hotel.

Several new parking garages containing nearly 3,000 spaces.

One or two new city parks. Sawyer wouldn't say how much of the $225 million cost of the new arena would come from the team and how much would have to come from public sources like the city, county, state or Sports & Exhibition Authority.

The Penguins are believed to want a deal similar to what the Pirates got at PNC Park, where the baseball team provided about $47 million, or 18 percent, of the $260 million project cost.

Sawyer said that before he can say how much money the team would contribute, he needs to know how much the operating costs at the new arena will be, who would pay them and how much revenue from advertising, naming rights, concession stands and parking the team will get.

Yesterday, Mayor Tom Murphy, Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey and sports authority Director Stephen Leeper seemed reluctant to provide much public funding.

An agreement signed by the city, county and Penguins in September 1999, when Lemieux bought the team, contains a date of June 30, 2002, for devising a financing plan for an arena.

But Leeper noted the deal also requires "a considerable amount" from the team.

Roddey said the county "does not have the funds available to contribute to construction of a new arena." He said county funds would be limited to water, sewer and roadway improvements "just as we would do for any other business."

Spokesman Craig Kwiecinski said Murphy "has made it clear there is no city operating money available" for an arena, and is looking for "significant" help from the county, state and private sector.

Phillips said the public sector would provide 10 to 20 percent of the cost of the project, for items like water and sewer lines and street construction.

PENGUINS CAUTIOUS ABOUT ARENA PLAN
April 6, 2006
Copyright 2006 MediaVentures

The Pittsburgh Penguins have reacted cautiously to a new proposal by Gov. Ed Rendell to fund an arena if the team's bid to win a slot machine casino license falls through. While Rendell said the plan was in line with what the team previously offered to invest in a new building, the Penguins said the cost was higher.

Rendell's plan, touted as a Plan B, calls for the team to pay $8.5 million up front. Governments would borrow $293.5 million which would earn $13 million in interest. The loan would be repaid with $7.5 million a year in a voluntary payment from whoever wins the casino license, $7 million a year from a state development fund and $2.9 million in annual rent from the Penguins. Another $1.2 million a year would come from sale of building naming rights.

While the up-front payment and rent were in line with previous offers the team made, the Penguins saw the naming rights money as cash out of their pockets.

The arena would be owned by the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority, but the team would get the revenue. Concession revenue would be used for routine maintenance of the facility.

DEVELOPER WANTS PENGUINS IN HARTFORD
April 13, 2006
Copyright 2006 MediaVentures

Hartford, Conn., could again see professional hockey if developer Lawrence Gottesdiener has his way. Gottesdiener wants to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and move them to a new arena he hopes to see funded in Hartford.

Gottesdiener, head of Northland Investment Corp., wants the state to help fund a 16,000-seat arena. The $250 million arena would host the hockey franchise and basketball teams from the University of Connecticut. If the NHL effort doesn't work out, Gottesdiener says the AHL Wolf Pack would be welcome.

Gottesdiener says public money would be needed to help build the venue. While no firm plan is in place, he suggested $150 million in tax-exempt bonds, $75 million from the state and $25 million from his company. The company is heavily invested in Hartford. Northland owns Trumbull Place, CityPlace II, Goodwin Square, Metro Center and more. It also has two significant residential projects that are in the works - luxury apartments at Hartford 21 and luxury condominiums at the site of the downtown YMCA.

The Connecticut Development Authority, which owns the current Civic Center, is considering the venue's future.

The Penguins had no comment on the proposal. The team is hoping to land a slot machine parlor license with its partner, Isle of Capri casinos, and use money from the project to fund a new arena. If that fails, local political leaders hope to convince the license winner to help fund the venue. The Penguins have kept their distance from the back-up plan saying it is incomplete.

The Penguins can leave Pittsburgh once their lease expires on June 30, 2007. They have the right to begin shopping the team to other cities at the end of June. The Penguins are committed to remaining in Pittsburgh if Isle of Capri wins the slots license.

SECOND BIDDER PLEDGES TO SUPPORT PITTSBURGH ARENA
April 20, 2006
Copyright 2006 MediaVentures

Don Barden, one of the bidders seeking a slot machine parlor for Pittsburgh, says he's ready to help fund a new arena for the Penguins if he wins the license. Barden also proposed a $350 million redevelopment project as part of his bid.

The state's Gaming Control Board began hearings this week into the new licenses that will be awarded in Pittsburgh and elsewhere.

The Penguins are working with Isle of Capri casinos in a bid for a parlor with some of the money going to fund an arena. City, county and state officials have been pressuring other bidders to put similar provisions in their bids in case the Penguins fail in their efforts.

Barden's pledge matches the Penguins plans for a $290 million arena. The final bidder, Forest City Enterprises with Harrah's Entertainment, has not made an arena proposal. Forest City plans a 1,200-unit condominium development and a 200-room expansion of the Sheraton Hotel in addition to the casino. Company officials said they would announce their intentions concerning the arena during the hearings, but said the government's plan makes sense.

Barden's offer calls for $7.5 million a year for 30 years, or $225 million in all, toward construction of an arena. The amount was requested of the applicants by Gov. Ed Rendell under his Plan B for funding an arena in case Isle of Capri didn't get the license.

HOTEL PLANNED NEAR CONSOL ENERGY CENTER
October 16, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - An upscale hotel will be the first major development spawned by the $290 million arena that will be the new home of the Penguins.

The team is announced a deal with Horizon Properties Group to build a 130- to 150-room hotel next to the arena.

It will mark the team's first bid to fulfill the development potential associated with the arena project, which is being built with annual contributions from the city's casino (now under construction), state development funds backed by slot machine revenues and Penguins contributions.

The team and Horizon Properties have signed a memorandum of understanding to build the seven-story hotel on a roughly one-acre parcel. The total cost of the development was unavailable.

Cecil-based Horizon is involved in the construction of the new Dick's Sporting Goods headquarters in Findlay and also developed the Hampton Inn & Suites hotel near The Meadows. It is developer of the Southpointe II project in Washington County.

Officials hope to start construction of the hotel by the start of the new year and have it completed when the new arena opens before the start of the 2010-11 hockey season. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

COST OF PEN'S ARENA JUMPS NEARLY 11 PERCENT
November 13, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - The cost of the replacement for Mellon Arena has soared to $321 million, forcing the Penguins, the state and the city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority to pony up more money to complete the project.

At $321 million, the new project cost is $31 million more than the $290 million budget originally set for the arena, which is scheduled to open before the 2010-11 hockey season. Under an agreement to be considered by the sports authority board, the Penguins will kick in $15.5 million to help cover the increase, the state will contribute $10 million and the sports authority $5.5 million from sources that could include an existing Mellon Arena ticket surcharge and interest income from new arena bond proceeds.

Project officials were not surprised that the arena cost surpassed $290 million. The original budget was set in 2005 when Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., then bidding for the Pittsburgh casino license, offered to put up $290 million to fund the project.

Penguins Chief Executive Officer Ken Sawyer said the team considered the $321 million project cost an "excellent result" given inflation, the dramatic spike in gasoline prices earlier this year and the rising cost of construction materials, including steel.

As part of the deal reached to build the new arena and keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, the team and the state agreed to split the cost of any increases between $290 million and $310 million.

If the total cost rose above $310 million, the Penguins had the right to walk away from the deal, but that won't happen.

Now that the final project cost has been set at $321 million, the Penguins will be responsible for any overruns above that amount.

The arena deal itself is funded through a $7.5 million annual payment for 30 years from the Pittsburgh casino, $7.5 million a year from a state economic development fund backed by slot machine revenues, and about $4 million a year from the Penguins.

Chuck Ardo, spokesman for Gov. Ed Rendell, said no final decision has been made on the source of funding for the extra $10 million needed from the state because of the cost increase. Penguins officials said they always thought the arena cost would end up between $290 million and $310 million. At $321 million, the total project cost is only about 3 percent more, they noted. (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

CONSOL Energy Buys Naming Rights to New Penguins Arena
December 14, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

CONSOL Energy Inc. announced Monday it has entered a 21-year deal to acquire the naming rights to the new Pittsburgh Penguins hockey arena.

According to a release from Upper St. Clair-based CONSOL, the new arena will be called Consol Energy Center. It is scheduled to open in time for the 2010-11 National Hockey League season. The facility will also host other events.

"For more than 140 years, CONSOL Energy has been a part of the tri-state region's history," Brett Harvey, president and chief executive officer of CONSOL Energy, said in a statement. "We are proud to help write a new chapter in Pittsburgh's history by sponsoring this wonderful new facility."

CONSOL purchased the naming rights for an undisclosed amount.

After Monday's announcement, Harvey said that after advertising with the team for some time, naming rights began to be a consideration.

The company sponsored the giant television screen outside Mellon Arena during last year's Stanley Cup playoffs, a hit with fans unable to buy tickets to the games.

"We are excited to extend our partnership with CONSOL Energy," Mario Lemieux, co-owner and chairman of the Penguins, said in a statement. "We think there is some great synergy involving one of the nation's leading energy companies, an energetic young hockey team and this vibrant city and region."

Consol Energy Center has already created construction jobs and, due to the improved performance space, seating and technology, it is anticipated to attract more events and spur development, according to CONSOL.

"Millions in our region are powered by the coal and gas our employees produce every day," Harvey said in the statement. "We believe the Consol Energy Center will extend that commitment by also powering the region with top-notch entertainment and future development."

David Morehouse, president of the Penguins, said that the money from deal would go into the team's general revenue. When asked whether the team considered Bank of New York Mellon, whose former name adorns the team's old arena, Morehouse said the Penguins "talked to a number of companies." Morehouse said BNY Mellon decided not to move forward although there may opportunities for the two to partner together in other ways.

In October, CONSOL reported third quarter profit today of $90.1 million, or 49 cents per share.

December 24, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

The Pittsburgh Penguins have decided against selling seat licenses to the team's new arena. "With the economy in the shape it's in, combined with the level of support we've had from season ticket holders over the years, we decided it was something we weren't going to do," team president DavidMorehouse said. In doing so, the team rejected the advice of an outside consultant, who recommended that it charge seat licenses for club and other premium seats, he said. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

COST OF PENGUINS' ARENA GOES UP
March 12, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - Amid a struggling economy, can you find $31 million? The Pittsburgh Penguins will have to.

The team announced the multimillion-dollar increase at a community meeting to provide updates about the Consol Energy Center currently under construction in the city's Uptown neighborhood.

The construction was originally projected at $290 million, but the price now has risen to $321 million.

The extra $31 million expense will be split amongst the Penguins, which will pay $15.5 million; the state, which will chip in an additional $10 million; and the Sports and Exhibition Authority, which will throw in $5.5 million.

Walt Czekaj, of P.J. Dick Corp., the project's director of field operations, said the price shouldn't increase again but the construction still has a year and a half to go.

The arena is slated to be ready for the 2010 hockey season and is scheduled for on-time completion.

Once built, the debt payment on the arena will come from $15 million in annual slots revenues and $4 million annually from the Penguins.

Additionally, the new hotel to be built next to the new arena will begin construction in May. The hotel chain remained unknown. (WTAE)

PENGUINS BEGIN MARKETING NEW SUITES
April 16, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - The Pittsburgh Penguins have begun marketing luxury suites and season tickets in the new Consol Energy Center set to open in 2010.

The suites are first on the team's list of items for sale. The Penguins will begin extending invitations first to current suite holders, followed by Gold Circle, club seat, season ticket holders and those on the season ticket waiting list.

With 14,000 season ticket holders and 5,000 people on the waiting list, team officials say it is possible that the Consol Energy Center, with 18,087 seats, may be sold out before any tickets are offered to the general public. However, as it has done in the past, the team plans to hold back several thousand tickets per game for students, families and the general public.

Mellon Arena now has 16,940 seats. The 66 new suites, including four party suites rented on a game-by-game basis, are 13 more than in the Igloo. Except for the party suites, they likely will be sold for $115,000 to $150,000 a year, up from $95,000 to $100,000 in Mellon Arena.

The suites will open directly into the arena bowl and will be appointed, with leather seats with cupholders, flat screen TVs including one with on-demand replays, imported Italian ceramic tile flooring, quartz countertops and bamboo cabinets. They will be in the middle of the new arena, closer to the action than in Mellon, where they are at the top level.

Officials expect the selling to be brisk despite the recession.

For other fans, 41 percent of the tickets in the Consol Energy Center will be priced below $50. The exact prices have yet to be determined.

July 16, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will decide next week whether to try to settle a major funding dispute between the city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority and the Rivers Casino. The two sides disagree over when yearly payments of $7.5 million to the SEA must begin. The payments are earmarked for debt service on the new Consol Energy Arena under construction in the Uptown neighborhood. The SEA argued that the 30 years of annual payments should start by Oct. 1. Casino officials think they have until 2010 or even 2012 to make the first payment. They said the casino doesn't even open until Aug. 9, which doesn't leave much time to earn enough profits to make a large payment by Oct. 1.

July 30, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

The opening of the Consol Energy Center is still a year away, but the Pittsburgh Penguins confirm they've sold out all 66 luxury suites. The suites are priced at $100,000 to $150,000 per year.

August 20, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

The Pittsburgh Penguins say construction of their new Consol Energy Center is on track for opening in 2010. A topping off ceremony on the $355 million venue occurred recently. Mellon Arena will be razed once the new building is open.

LEGISLATORS PRESSURE CASINO ON ARENA PAYMENTS
September 24, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - Pittsburgh-area legislators are putting pressure on slot parlor owner Don Barden to begin funding of a new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins in October rather than waiting a year.

The legislators have introduced legislation that would prevent the slots parlor from getting a license until its payments begin. The casino is to pay $7.5 million a year toward the arena under its agreement with the state. Barden says the payments are to begin in 2010, but others say they are to begin this year.

The legislators are members of the city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority board.

The SEA is in negotiations with the casino over the timing of the payments, to be made annually over 30 years. The SEA has said the payments are to start this fall, with the first due Oct. 1. But casino officials have said they were told last year during negotiations to rescue the stalled project that the payments wouldn't start until at least 2010.

Officials of the slots parlor say they're willing to move up the date if they get commitments that the annual payment would be reduced if the state raises the 55 percent tax rate on slot machines or if the state grants a license for a second casino in the Pittsburgh market.

In their letter, the two senators said the SEA doesn't have the power to agree to such conditions. The payment is one of the funding streams for the $321 million arena under the deal reached two years ago between state and local leaders and the Penguins to keep the team in Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH CASINO ADVISED TO BEGIN ARENA PAYMENTS
October 8, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - Pennsylvania's Gaming Control Board has told the operators of a new slot machines parlor that they should immediately begin annual $7.5 million payments needed to fund a new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins of they could face fines.

The board's Office of Enforcement Counsel acknowledged that the casino's ownership group, Holdings Acquisition Co., missed a Sept. 15 deadline to make the first of 30 yearly payments to the Sports & Exhibition Authority, which is building the $325 million Consol Energy Center.

Doug Harbach, a spokesman for the Gaming Control Board, said the board must meet to accept or reject the complaint filed by E. Barry Creany, deputy enforcement counsel.

A special meeting could be scheduled before the board's next regular meeting on Oct. 21. A separate complaint seeks an expedited response from The Rivers' ownership by Oct. 14.

"Should Holdings fail to make any payments, there (could) be a monetary penalty or fine," Harbach said.

Detroit businessman Don Barden signed an agreement in July 2006 with the SEA to pay $7.5 million a year to guarantee payment of the SEA's $313.3 million arena bond issue. The Penguins are paying $4.1 million a year and the state is contributing $7.5 million a year from a development fund fed by casino tax revenues. The three payments together would repay the bond on the arena at a rate of $19.1 million a year.

CASINO MAKES PAYMENT FOR ARENA
October 15, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - Officials of Rivers Casino made what they call a $2.35 million good will payment to help fund a new arena for the Penguins without acknowledging whether they owed the money or not.

Local officials say the firm, which agreed to make a $7.5 million annual payment as part of its deal to open a new slots parlor, was supposed to begin payments this year. Casino officials say the payments are to begin next year. The state's Gaming Control Board said action could be taken against the firm for what it saw as violations of the license agreement.

Democratic state Sens. Sean Logan of Monroeville and Wayne Fontana of Brookline also inserted language into a proposed bill legalizing table games to suspend the Rivers' license and appoint a trustee to run the casino if no payment is made by Oct. 25. The amendments also would ban the casino from receiving a table games license until it makes the payment.

Casino officials said the payment was one of "good will" while negotiations continue.

Under a twice-a-year payment schedule worked out with the Sports and Exhibition Authority as part of the negotiations, a $2.35 million payment is due Oct. 25, to be followed by another $5.14 million payment April 25.

If no agreement is reached, the casino could be facing a hearing before the full Gaming Control Board later this month on the complaint filed by the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement.

CASINO AGREES TO MAKE PAYMENTS TOWARD PENGUINS' ARENA
November 12, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - Perhaps inspired by Solomon, the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority and Rivers Casino agreed to divide a $7.5 million annual payment into two installments as a way of resolving a dispute over when the payments should be made.

The deal allows the casino to make equal payments on Oct. 1 and April 1 to complete the $7.5 million annual bill which will be used to help fund a new arena for the Penguins. The split will run for 29 of the agreement's 30 years.

The agreement ends months of dispute between the two sides over the timing of the payments, which the casino agreed to make as a condition of its license.

As the dispute dragged on, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board last month threatened to fine the casino for failing to make the first payment, which was due Oct. 25. A day later, Rivers officials made a $2.35 million payment as a "gesture of good faith."

Greg Carlin, the Rivers chief executive officer, said the casino was "very happy" to conclude the negotiations. He said there was never any intent to avoid the payment. The threatened fines, he insisted, did not play a part in ultimately reaching a deal.

State Sen. Sean Logan, an SEA board member, noted that if the Rivers had not paid up, taxpayers would have been on the hook since the commonwealth guaranteed the bond payments for the arena.

As part of negotiations, Rivers officials had pressed for language that would have allowed for a reduction in the payment if the state increased the 55 percent tax on slots revenues or authorized additional casino licenses in the Pittsburgh area.

It got neither in the final agreement. However, the SEA will send a letter to the gaming control board opposing the issuance of a license for another casino within 60 miles of the Rivers unless the new facility pays a "proportional amount" of the yearly $7.5 million arena payment.

At the same time, the SEA made a point of noting the language would not apply to The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County, any license awarded for a Lawrence County casino, or a license awarded for a resort casino in the region.

The $7.5 million payment from the casino was part of the 2007 agreement to build a new arena and keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

The deal also includes a $7.5 million annual payment from a state economic development fund backed by slots revenue and $4.3 million a year from the team.

PENGUINS' NEW IGLOO ON SCHEDULE
February 25, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - Work on the Pittsburgh Penguins' new Consol Energy Center arena is 75 percent complete with the goal of opening the venue by August 1. The first event will likely be in September.

Workers will begin installing the arena's 18,087 seats and start to assemble the massive state-of-the-art high-definition scoreboard within the next month. A lot of what remains to be done will be finishing work.

Before the end of March, the Penguins plan to send notices to their 14,000 season ticket holders showing them the location of their seats at Consol Energy Center. The team already has been fielding calls from ticket holders interested in knowing where they will be located.

The Penguins have sold out all 66 suites in the new building. There also is a waiting list of 7,500 people for season tickets, although the Penguins do not plan to substantially increase the number available in the new arena even though capacity will increase by 1,147 seats.

While Consol Energy Center will be much larger in square footage than Mellon Arena, team CEO Ken Sawyer said much of the intimacy will remain. He said the seating in the lower bowl will be very similar to that at Mellon and that the suites will be lower.

There will be no obstructed views in the upper level, he added. "With a full house in here, with the audio visual and everybody out in the open, it'll rock," he said.

Part of the lower bowl will be retractable to provide more floor space for non-hockey events.

Sawyer said the additional space, along with better rigging and acoustics, should make the new arena attractive to concert acts that have bypassed Pittsburgh in the past.

The building also will be greener than Mellon - the team plans to seek a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, the second highest available.

PENGUINS OFFER TOUR OF NEW ARENA
March 18, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - The Pittsburgh Penguins opened their new Consol Energy Center arena to a press tour this week as seats were being installed.

The team is promising fans more legroom and better views overall, with no obstructions, than they currently have at the Igloo, where the leg room rivals that of your average coach flight.

"All in all, we believe we have the most comfortable seating arrangement in the entire league," Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer said.

The seats in the upper bowl at Consol Energy Center will be 20 inches wide, making for a comfortable fit. But what fans might notice the most is the amount of leg room they will have.

At the new arena, the "tread," or amount of depth in the rows, will be 33 inches in the upper bowl and 35 inches in the lower bowl, making for more leg room. That compares with a tread of 26 inches to 31 inches at Mellon Arena, the team's former home. The rows also will be a bit more pitched, meaning views won't be blocked by the person sitting in front of you.

The upper bowl also is more steeply sloped than the lower level, in an effort to bring fans closer to the ice.

He stressed there will be no obstructed views in the Consol Energy Center, as there are in sections of Mellon Arena, at times requiring fans to risk neck sprains to see parts of the ice.

Before the end of the month, season ticket holders are expected to receive their new seat assignments and the prices that go with them. They also will have the option to move to another location in the Consol Energy Center if they choose.

Sawyer said the team still is on schedule to complete the arena construction by Aug. 1.

May 6, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Dr. Pepper will be the official beverage of the Pittsburgh Penguins new Consol Energy Center. Drinks will come from the Dr. Pepper and Snapple lines and will include 7-Up, Hawaiian Punch, RC Cola and A&W Root Beer.

June 3, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

The Pittsburgh Penguins have invited 250 students to help with a flush test of the team's new Consol Energy Center. The students will flush all 386 toilets and urinals simultaneously at 4 p.m. June 10. The Penguins sent out a notice to more than 15,000 fans enrolled in their Student Rush Text Alert program offering them a chance to enter a drawing for the prized flush. After four hours, the team already had received more than 1,000 entries. In all, 125 students will be selected for the big flush and they each will be asked to invite a friend to help out. The only requirements: at least 18 years of age and the ability to work a toilet.

CONSOL ENERGY CENTER OPENS TO GOOD REVENUES, REVIEWS
August 19, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Pittsburgh, Pa. - Paul McCartney opened the Consol Energy Center this week to good reviews both for the performance and the facility, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The building also opened with strong revenue possibilities through sponsorships.

From the box office to the entrances to the wall of jerseys honoring high school and amateur hockey teams, nearly everything that fans see in the new arena bears the name of a sponsor - all in an effort to maximize revenue for the Penguins and to raise the exposure of those paying for the rights, the newspaper reported.

"From the outset, we developed a building better suited to accommodate these sponsorships and sponsorship elements," David Peart, the team's vice president of business partnerships, told the Post-Gazette.

With a new venue at its disposal, the hockey team created the category of "founding partner" and eight of them have invested in their own slice of the $321 million building.

The results can be seen at gates bearing such names as Verizon and American Eagle Outfitters, the Dick's Sporting Goods box office and the PNC Legends Level that holds the arena's 66 suites. Consol Energy, which purchased the naming rights to the arena, is also a founding partner.

While Peart would not reveal details of the new sponsorship agreements, he said all were long-term, multi-year deals and had put the team on the cutting edge of sports marketing.

The Penguins also have acquired sponsors for their two club seating sections and a private dining area for premium seat holders.

Overall, Peart told the newspaper the team had developed business partnerships with 100 to 120 entities, ranging from those doing radio or program advertising all the way up to founding sponsors. At Mellon, the team had 60 to 70 sponsors, he said.

Under its lease, the Penguins, after expenses, will be able to keep all revenue from NHL games and other events, as well as concessions, the sale of luxury suites and premium seating, merchandise, novelties and programs, and the sponsorships and advertising.

The Penguins will pay a base $4.1 million each year in rent, the team's contribution toward the construction of the $321 million venue. The Pirates pay $100,000 a year in base rent for their ballpark and a share of ticket surcharge revenue, and the Steelers pay about $2 million annually, more in years with home playoff games at the stadium.

Like the two other teams, the Penguins are responsible for operating and maintaining their venue.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Mellon Arena
Mellon Arena

1967-2010
Consol Energy Center
Consol Energy Center

2010-Present


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