Monday, September 26, 2011

The Igloo: End of an Era

The Civic Arena
According to the Tribune-Review, demolition has begun on the Civic Arena today.   It marks the end of an era for a familiar Pittsburgh landmark, which has stood in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh for over 50 years.

The Arena was constructed in 1961, originally for the use of the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.  However, it expanded its events to include many events, including the circus, concerts and of course, the Penguins.

It also was known for its retractable steel roof, the largest in the world supported by a single steel beam, which would open on certain occasions.  In fact, my parents remember attending an Alabama concert where the roof opened up, allowing a glimpse of the night sky.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were the main habitants of the Igloo, and provided many entertaining nights to yinzers far and wide.  Hockey greats like Michel Briere, Rick Kehoe, Kevin Stevens, Larry Murphy and Mario Lemieux all played and delighted Penguin fans for many years at the Igloo.  The Arena also introduced Pittsburgh to fan favorites like Slippery Rock Joey Mullen, Downtown Robbie Brown, Frankie Leroux and Zarley Zalapski.  I could list many more, but it would take too long to name them all.

Although efforts were made to save the arena by labeling it as a historic landmark, those efforts have finally been put down for good, and the arena is coming down.  Most fans will have to rely only on memories and pictures to remember the large, domed arena.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the announcement that the Igloo will be demolished by ball and chain, rather than implosion.  Grumblings have been heard from many moustached yinzers, who were anticipating a large tailgate party to celebrate the impending 'plosion.

The 'plosion parties have been canceled, but the Igloo is still coming down.  Goodnight, sweet prince.  Thanks for the memories.


  1. R Korn said....

    I'll miss the Civic Arena. I always thought that it was a great place to watch a hockey game. Arenas now are all sterile cookie-cutters that have no character. This was the last of the unique arenas; Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium, Montreal Forum, Maple Leaf Garden, etc and now the Igloo...gone.

    Also had some great bands come through over the years. I'll miss the place

  2. Pills said...

    Great write up steller. The Igloo was my favorite place to see an event. The smell when you walked in, the actual feel of the arena, and the memories. It made you feel like you were at hockey game. I think the Igloo is our generation's Forbes Field where nothing will compare and only be a close 2nd.

  3. I agree, I will really miss the good old Igloo. So many memories, 75% involve the Pens & Lemieux. Some personal highlights include game 2 vs. the Bruins in the Eastern finals in 91. I was lucky enough to get tickets to the game Lemieux came back in 2000 vs. Toronto. I never heard the arena louder than when Lemieux scored in that game.

    Some great concerts also come to mind. U2 in 2005, Pearl Jam, Metalica, and Michael Jackson.

  4. The Igloo was a great place because of its character, but I won't miss or ever understand how it was designed to only have 3 toilets per bathroom. What a show piece in Striking Distance though!