Get you rmotor runnin’. Head out on the highway. Thats exactly what I did last night and yes I was born to be wild. Me and my buddy Andrew, yep the Yankee guy who influenced me so much to don the A-Rod jersey last Friday, headed over to the Keystone State for a fun night of Pittsburgh hockey. Now I love driving, I enjoy road trips for the freedom, the music and the sense of adventure. Last night, we had all three. The road I take to Pittsburgh is the road most traveled. From Youngstown I always drive to the Burgh for Pirate games and other activities in the city. From Morgantown I always drive to Pittsburgh also for ball games and activities. Its safe to say I know this road pretty well. Being just an hour from both Y-Town and Mo-Town, Pittsburgh is the ideal epicenter for life and development in the Northeast Ohio, Western PA and Northen West Virginia Metropolitan area. I always get ragged on for making that statement, especially in Youngstown. Everyone in the YO are Cleveland people and everytime I even make a slight regard to Pittsburgh being closer to Youngstown I hear the hate train a-coming.
But last night was unique. We headed out to Pittsburgh for a fun night of sitting outside Mellon Arena with thousnads of other poor Pittsburghers who couldn’t afford a ticket inside the arena. The Versus network sponsered a big screen TV to be hung outside of Mellon for the public to view the game in an exciting setting. Both us not being the biggest hockey fans but happy to support the Pens found this offer to be quite thrilling and we wanted to be part of the action. Now call me a front runner, tell me I’m jumping on the bandwagon, but its simply not true. Earlier in the hockey season I was quoted on saying that “I’m not really a Penguins fan, I’m a Penguins supporter.” While somewhat true, I have followed the Pens. I went to a game earlier this year and have been to a handful of others. I fell in love with players such as Jaromier Jagr, Johan Hedberg, Tom Barrasso, and Super Mario Himself.
These pictures were taken in the Strip District of Pittsburgh and my favorite Burgh hangout, Primanti Brothers. I mentioned Primantis in my Opening Day entry a few month sback, to refresh your memory it is a sandwich shop famous for putting coleslaw and french fires on the sandwich. I enjoyed a cheese steak with fries and slaw while Andrew indulged in the capicola. My favorite part of Primantis aside from the historic location is the murals inside. Covering the walls are caricatures of famous Pittsburgh movie stars, actors, and sports figures. In honor of teh hockey game I snapped a pic of Mario and in honor of the Pirates that is a picture of Honus Wganer and beloved manger Jim Leyland.
After we enjoyed our dinner we drove up to the arena and was greeted by a throng of people.
The area outside of Mellon Arena was loaded with thousands of people decked oout in their black and gold. Some people were fighting their way through the throng of people to make their way to the gates and in the stadium. The vast majority of people were just taking in the show laying on blankets, sitting in lawn chairs and watching the game on the big screen outside, that was mine and Andrews plan, to be one of the outsiders. While still in the car we came across many sclapers selling tickets to this big game. Out of curisoity we inquired about how much we would have to pony up to see a part of Pittsburgh history. The first guy said $175.00 each, the next $200.00. A little out of reach, especially for 2 college students who aren’t the biggest hockey fans in the world.
We eventually parked the car and walked towards the arena in hopes of finding a comfortable place to watch the game.
The big problem was that we didn’t have any lawn chairs. Stupid mistake because we were hard pressed to find a comfortbale setting. We sat on police barracades-but were kicked out. We croched in front of a group sitting on a couch-yelled at, so we moved. Our last resort was standing. We were way in the back acoross the street and could only catch a glimpse of the screen, with people and trees in the way it would not have been an enjoyable night.
We walked around the dome in hopes of running into more scalpers, to beg, borrow our way into Mellon Arena.
We talked to about 8 sclapers who all offered outrageous prices for a pair of tickets. The lowest we were going to recieve was $120.00. Still too much for us at least. In reality that is a reasonable price for an event such as this one. With about a half hour til gametime we still were not giving up.
We talked to a handful of more scalpers untill we heard somebody was selling them in the 80 dollar range. A little closer to our target price. We ran into the 80 dollar guy. He was cordial and realized we were just two kids looking to get in the stadium. We pleaded for him to give them to us for $60. By this time it was 8 o’clock and close to gametime. We were on the verge of becoming desperate. He said teh lowest he could go was 80, in the end we walked a way.
The voice cried out, “HEY GUYS…I GOT YOU”. We alked back and he said $60 bucks. We couldn’t believe ourselves $60 bucks to see a Stanley Cup game, a great deal for us, not so much for him. We were overjoyed walking into the stadium yelling and high fiving each other. I was tempted to go up to the couch people who yelled at us just to rub the tix in their face.
The security in the stadium was tight, almost liek an airport. There were pat downs, industrial bag checks and those electric metal detector sticks that you have to spread your arms out when they go over you. It was intense. As we walked through the gate we were handed a white t-shirt and rally towel. Perfect paraphernalia for my collection. The insigna of the Stanley Cup logo on the towel is a great collectors item.
We walked around the old stadium having a little trouoble finding our seats. I’ve been to Mellon Arena before, plenty of times actually stretching back to when it was called Civic Arena. It reminds me alot of Three Rivers Stadium. Its just like those cookie cutter baseball parks such as Vetrans Field, Qualcomm Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, and old Busch Stadium. Winding walkways and circular dimensions, its very weird when navigating your way through. We finally came across section E17, row O seats 17 and 18. Our home for the next three hours.
You can tell from the excitement on Andrews face he was thrilled to be in there, as was I. Were in in the dead last row. You can see the roof of the dome peeking out behind my shoulder. It was great to pund on makign noise during the action. The seats weren’t all that bad either. There was a level above us so at times we had to crouch down in order to see the on-ice action. We were able to see the puck travel clearly and see it drop in the net. It was an amazing time.
It was honestly the most exciting sporting event I have ever been to. Now I’ve been to my share of Pirate games, WVU football and basketball games, Steelers games and Cavaliers basketball games-nothing compared to the suspense. I was never on the edge of my seat as much as I was last night. I have been to my share of high profile events. 2005 NCAA basketball tournament first round, 2006 Sugar Bowl and 2006 Home Run Derby and All Star game but nothing was as meaningful as the Stanley Cup Final game.
It was also not just a party for the Penguins, it was a celebration of the city. Mike Tomlin, Casey Hampton, Heinz Ward and Heath Miller were all in attendance. It was great seeing some Steelers join in with their fellow citizens and cheer on the Pens.
Here are some more pics of the night.
Mario Lemieux dropping the ceremonial puck
The White Out T-Shirt given away to all fans
Opening face off of the game
Red Wings mobile-bet it didnt make it out of the Burgh alive
Reppin’ some Pirates pride. That is a Donnie Veal jersey. He is a rookie reliever who is currently on the DL. The first Veal jersey I have ever seen, not sure why they would even manufacture them
ITS TOWEL TIME
Final Score- 2 goals for Max Talbot
A downtown building flashed a laser of the logo. Very cool to see
While the hockey game was going on I couldn’t help but to think of my buddies across town. the Pirates were playing the Mets and with Johan Santana on the mound I feared for my bucs.However, a 3-1 win was the result and I couldn’t have felt more proud. I was upset with myself for coming to Pittburgh and not supporting my Bucs. But a trip past PNC Park was definately in order.