Mellon Arena (a.k.a. the Civic Arena, a.k.a. the Igloo) will be closing this summer. Though I have lived in Pittsburgh for almost twenty years, I realize that I have only been inside that building 3 times.
1. In 1992, I loaned my car to my upstairs neighbor during part of the 28-day PAT bus strike. Unasked-for, she repaid me with tickets to see the American Gladiators at the Civic Arena. I don’t remember looking like the type of person who would stay up past Saturday Night Live to watch the ridiculous battles of musclebound men and women with names like Zap and Storm. But hey, I’m a good sport. I was pleasantly surprised that the Gladiators brought the human-in-a-gerbil-ball Atlaspheres on tour.
2. In 2004, my real estate agent gave me two tickets to see a Pittsburgh Penguins game at Mellon Arena. Yep, instead of getting to see the Pens during their championship years of 1990-91, 1991-92 or 2008-09, I saw them when they had an awful record of 15 wins to 44 losses. But, fortunately, I saw Penguins goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin amazingly stop 45 shots in a shutout (a franchise record) against the Dallas Stars. Wow.
3. In 2009, a friend invited me to see Bruce Springsteen with him at the arena. As expected, Bruce and his band gave it their all going directly from song to song with no breaks for 2 1/2 hours or so. But instead of finishing the night with the hard-rocking, heartfelt “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” they brought out local rocker Joe Grushecky and his son to play “Mony Mony,” which is perhaps my least favorite song on oldies radio. Oh well, still a good show and a window into another world for me who is used to going to either the symphony or basement punk, metal, and experimental noise shows attended by 50 people or less.
Even though it was my own past, I had to fact check parts of it by using articles from the library’s online suite of newspaper resources. Further reading on the Civic Arena’s beginnings as a venue for the Civic Light Opera can be done in Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera: How the Dreams Came True written by local historian extraordinaire Mary Brignano. And as much as I’d like to see your memories in the comments section, you can also submit them directly to Mellon Arena Memories.