Civic Arena.

8 04 2010

This is my tribute to the Civic Arena, where the last regular season Pens game was held tonight… Sadcakes.

The day they implode the CIVIC – NO, not MELLON – arena will be one of the saddest days in my life. I’ve already called out some friends to come with me that day. I’ll be the 30-ish girl with a big box of Kleenex tissues…. either in all black & gold w/ a PGH rugby jacket, or in my Pens jersey… I don’t know yet…

I have so many memories made inside of the Mellon/Civic Arena.

I didn’t really feel much when they imploded Three Rivers Stadium. I’d been there, many times, and I watched the implosion live on TV, but it didn’t hold the memories the arena does.

And I don’t even know if I can even recall/write down/commemorate everything that darn arena means to me… But this is mostly about hockey….

I was born into a family with a father who played & coached hockey. I had two much older brothers who played hockey (both goalies, BTW) and one of whom apparently still coaches out of state. And my father not only coached, but he played in the minors a very, very, very long time ago (think circa Scotty Bowman’s time.) Yeah. He left playing hockey and became a coach in the end.

I remember when I was really little – we’re talking toddler to 4 years old here – and my dad coached a traveling team. That’s what he did until I was just over 4, I think. But in this one memory, I remember being in a hotel room, with my dad and his players, and hoooh boy, was he yelling at them!!! I have this vague memory of standing next to/behind dad’s leg throughout. Those poor boys who had to see me while getting yelled at!! I’m sorry, guys!!

I remember my dad coaching a local high school team around ’81-82ish (that’s a total guess, based on how old I think my sister was at the time!), and one of my favorite childhood memories about the arena is when he coached the Junior Penguins. Practices then were at the Arena. I remember showing up with my mom, and then literally running circles through the seats, somewhere around an old-school mid B-level or low C-level seat. God help my mom, right? I was unstoppable in my running. Guaranteed. Maybe that’s why I hate running now.

Later on, my dad had season tickets. That continued until right before Sid joined the team. Around that time, mom & dad moved to Florida. (My dad did make it back to see a game with Mario & Sid though. And I was so happy for him…)

I was most often my dad’s counterpart at games, unless the guy he shared the seats wanted to go, or business associates were in town. Throughout all of high school, and through most, if not all of my collegiate years.

We sat in C-5. About halfway up, middle of the row. They were SPECTACULAR seats. Something I know now I’d never be able to afford, but OMG do I wish I could have one of our seats when they dismantle that place!!!

My dad would never sit below C level. And I can’t either. It’s entirely different seeing the game from A or B level and seeing it from nearly or entirely above. Eventually my dad & his buddy moved the seats to E or F (can’t remember, only went once or twice) before he let them go…. Personally, I’d prefer a corner seat, somewhere around D level on an aisle. Awesome view and you aren’t hanging from the rafters. But, as many games as I’ve seen the past 5 years, I’m in E-F level and I LOVED it.

However, C level was awesome, and I’ll get to it….

Right before the first Stanley Cup win, I became a mild super fan. Not one who was out there screaming, but one who watched the roster, the stats. We had Mario. We drafted Jaromir. I still have Jaromir’s rookie card. In French. Last I saw, it was worth $0.50 or so. If you want to offer me more than $100, email me. I don’t want/need it. Yeah.

I went to every game my dad offered me that season. With him, with a friend, whomever. I had to see the Pens. You have to understand. My dad? Not a crazy fan. He’s a quiet one. A coach. Tried & true.  He never yelled at games. He knows what you loud people do not. So even now, when I go to see the Pens play? I’m sooo quiet, I prefer to watch the game… Like I said, I like the high seats, so I’m observing everything from up there.

The first year we went far in playoffs, my dad and his friend decided to buy through the first round of playoffs for their seats. They split the cost, as always.

And then we made it to the next round, and then the next round… Right before the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And tix were so costly at that time. So my dad had to break it to me that we couldn’t afford it – they were pretty pricey, I was ok with it and I’m okay with this even now.

But then one day, my dad’s friend shows up at our house. We’re all in the family room, and he says to me, “So, what are you doing for the next game?” And I replied that I’d probably watch it on TV with my dad. His response was “Why don’t you go ahead and take your dad to the game?” And thus offered me tickets to the game that would cinch our first visit to the final round. I have no idea if that was a gift or if my mom & dad paid for it. But that made my day, my month, my year at that point an still now… My favorite memory with my dad, at the arena, for a Pens game.  I love my Dad for that one. Meant so much to me.

But the experience? The first time we were about to make it to the final round? Wow. You couldn’t hear anyone around you. You couldn’t hear yourself. I’m pretty sure we spent most of the game on our feet, because everyone else in front of us was! And when they won? It can only compare to the feeling I’ve felt when my rugby team has won that level of their playoffs, and it’s only about 50% of what was going on in the arena that night.

Flash forward to this past year, if you will… My younger sister is married, to someone from NE, no less. And they have a little girl.

My first visit to see my new niece was during the final round of the Stanley Cup. For me? That makes sense.

So I packed up all of my gifts for my new niece. And my two favorite Pens t-shirts.

And that night? I watched the game with my brother-in-law, who is awesome (and a Boston/New England fan, but appreciated his gift years earlier of a Terrible Towel), and wore my fave Pens t-shirt and draped the other shirt across my weeks old niece in her little bouncy/vibrating chair. I think it was one of 5 times she was happy to sleep in that chair.

And when we won? I was sad that I wasn’t here, in the ‘Burgh. But I was happy that I spent that time as I had, with my brother in law and my niece, even if she was sleeping… Only thing that could have made it better? My dad being there.

NE and I agree that she’s got to be a Boston Red Sox Fan. With the Pirates? No contest. I’ll be overly honest here and tell you that I am a Red Sox fan now. Pirates? What? I know we’ve won the first two games and OMG Garrett Jones who pulls a rockin’ home run into the river on the first game… I know the Bucco’s are going to not live up to any expextations.  So BoSox it is. Aunt Claire is shopping around for home-made Bo-Sox T-shirt ideas even.

For the Pens/Bruins and Steelers/Pats, we’re going to go with the better of the teams each season. And let My Little C decide on her own. The bro-in-law? He’s a good dude, and we agree to disagree when our teams are matched up.

Besides my Pens, I’ve seen so many “Ice Capades” at the arena that I can’t remember….

However, I have to admit that my favorite of favorite memories of the Arena is when my Dad and Mom told me my Dad was taking me away. Wouldn’t tell me why. But I think it was a Snork, Popple or some other cartoon character from the very early 80’s or very late 70’s  in Ice Capades. I don’t remember what it was. But there are pictures of me in front of the car in my parents stash of pics. I don’t really care what it WAS exactly. What it meant to me is most important.

I loved that my parents did things for me. To no end. Even now. I appreciate them, their input and their help, even though I’m a moron and don’t always make them happy. I want My Little C to have as great a life as I did, and more. So much more.

I’ve seen a Pens game or two from box seats. I’ve seen Britney Spears from a box and had a tweetfest w/ @Calipanthergrl about our experience… I’ve seen WWE? WWF? I don’t know? at the arena and ended up with a t-shirt that had the Rock’s diatribe on it. Yeah, I’ll layeth the smacketh down… whatever. I’ve seen Puff Daddy & Mace & whatever else the “family” was back then. And I saw my first concert ever, Huey Lewis & the News there.  I still love Huey, and I LOVE my mom for taking me to that concert, so be quiet…

The day they take down my Arena? It’s going to be bad. Very bad. But I’m hoping that with this and the rest of my memories, I can make it through with maybe just one box of Kleenex. I WISH my dad could be there with me, but it’s probably not going to happen…

Who’s with me for the Tweet-Up?? It will be fun, I WILL smile at the memories, but please bring an extra box of Kleenex for me. Because I’ll be a sober mess of sadness.




One response

9 04 2010

Clairesy…I’m glad to share a memory with you in the arena!!!!! Love the post!

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