Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Ending of a Legend

If you are unfamiliar with Pittsburgh landmarks, this picture is the Mellon Arena. Some people may still remember it as the Civic Arena. Commonly known as the "Igloo" or "The House that Lemieux (Mario) Built," the Arena was built back in the 1950s and became a major sports venue for first the Pittsburgh Hornets and then later the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Arena also hosted concerts and the Ringling Bros Circus.

The walls are coming down.

The Arena was set for demolishment on September 26. With the new Consol Energy Center built, it was decided that the Arena was no longer needed. The demolition is set to end on June of 2012.

I hear it will be sooner than that.

My older brother is working for the company that is demolishing the Arena. The things they have found have been interesting. It's not every day you locate a secret tunnel under the arena that leads under the roadway and toward the nearby buildings.

They have found other things. Secret locked rooms filled with mystery stuff. Couches. Chairs. Computers. And truckloads of copper pipes that can easily pay the all the workers' salaries if they were demolishing 20 Arenas. The work will be ongoing for the next several months, although my brother sees it ending before the set June date.

The Arena will be gone. A landmark for many. Many people want souvenirs, such as the man who approached my brother asking for the season box seats he had. Yes, the seats. What would he possibly do with them? I suppose it could become a conversational piece for a few months. But then what?

How about you? Was there ever any landmark that was going to be torn down that you wanted a piece of? What did you do with it? How much did you make selling it on eBay.


  1. A buddy of mine got some old Tiger Stadium seats which he put in his basement 'man-cave', for watching sports on TV. . .

    It's kinda sad when those old landmarks go down. Nowadays, Tiger Stadium is just a vacant lot, with the old flagpole still standing where center field used to be. . .

  2. My brother said he might snag me a couch and chair from the arena, fabric-lined. I'm not so much into it being memorabilia as I am in not having to pay for living room furniture, although it will be cool to say that *maybe* Mario Lemeuix or Sidney Crosby *might* have sat on the furniture.

  3. I love this post.
    I'm not familiar with Pittsburg at all...and read each word about the demolition of Mellon Arena with great interest.
    Amazing the finds that were made....the secrets that are hidden underneath the arena.
    Great post!!!
    Hugs and smiles,

  4. I got an old desk from my grandparents... but I know that's not what you meant... and I sure as heck wouldn't sell it on Ebay

  5. I always find it somewhat sad when a sporting arena or ballpark is gone.

    (Well, almost always. A few of those astroturfed horrors that called themselves baseball parks are the exception.)

    I can think of a few places that were torn down that I would have liked some memento from. The old Boston Garden would be one. I spent many a Celtics game there. It would be cool to have one of the old sideline cage-enclosed 24-second clocks or something like that. More personal, I would have liked a desk from my elementary school, or one of the giant Buddha statues from my local movie palace, The Oriental.

  6. Jackie: Thanks!

    Uncle Skip: No, stuff like that definitely are a wonderful thing to have, and keep.

    Suldog: I can understand wanting clocks and desks and statues. But stadium seating baffles me. I never found those being comfortable enough to sit on while AT the park, let alone wanting to take it home with me.

  7. Oh, and when they finally decided to put real grass back in Spartan Stadium some years back, we got a hunk of the old artificial turf (with a hashmark!), which now serves as our welcome mat. . .

  8. Craig: Now THAT is a cool way to have a bit of sports history at home! Both stadiums that were torn down (Mellon/Civic Arena and Three Rivers Stadium) had natural turf, as does Heinz Stadium, considered one of the worst football fields to play on. Always wondered about the debate of real turf versus astroturf.

  9. Well, there's really no debate. . .

    Artificial turf was developed back in the 60s (I'll stop short of adding, 'along with most of the other bad stuff in our lives to this day'. . .), because when the Houston Astrodome (the first domed stadium) was built in '65, they found, to their dismay, that grass wouldn't grow indoors). Then Monsanto came to the realization that there was a pretty small number of domed stadiums to sell Astroturf to, so they started marketing it to outdoor stadiums on the 'You don't have to mow it' idea (ie, decreased maintenance costs). It wasn't until the stuff was actually installed that folks realized that, instead of mowing it, you have to VACUUM it, which requires WAY more workers working WAY longer hours than mowing would have.

    Besides which, the foam backing gets compressed over time, and falling on it becomes distressingly akin to falling on concrete. Plus, you have to wear all sorts of extra protective gear because of rug-burns. And nobody ever blew out a knee because he caught a cleat in a seam in the grass. And that's just football. Don't get me started on what FakeTurf does to baseball. . .

    Honestly, that bit of Spartan Stadium on my front porch is doing WAY better than it ever did as a football field. . .


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