PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins have won three Stanley Cups, and played for a fourth. They've experienced two bankruptcies, and multiple retirements by Mario Lemieux.
What they've never done until now is play a game in their, brand-new arena.
All that changes tonight when the Penguins officially christen Sidney Crosby Arena — er, actually, Consol Energy Center — with a season-opening game against the Philadelphia Flyers before their 167th consecutive sellout crowd.
The arena took one bankruptcy, one Lemieux retirement and seven years of politicking to achieve but, if three exhibition games there are any indication, the 18,087-seat structure should soon move near the top of the NHL's new arena hierarchy.
While the nomenclature The House That Mario Lemieux Built is more accurate — the Hall of Fame player and Penguins co-owner spent seven oft-frustrating years lobbying for the new building — everything about the arena seemingly has been touched by Crosby, right down to his No. 87 being the final two digits of its capacity. There's even a cupboard in the team's expansive locker room, fitness area and recreation room to house his favorite cereal.
"For a brand-new building, it seems pretty homey right away," Crosby said. "It's a little bigger than we're used to."
Bigger, better, brighter, cleaner, fancier. All those terms fit following 43 seasons in the Civic Arena, which was built for the Civic Light Opera in 1961 and was retrofitted for hockey six years later after Pittsburgh gained an NHL expansion franchise.
"I'm really excited top play in the new building," forward Evgeni Malkin said.