I spent several hours today at the new Consol Energy Center, the new multi-purpose facility in Pittsburgh that is most notably the new home of the NHL's Penguins.
Pittsburgh has taken pride -- and with justification -- in the new building, which improves the skyline and allows the city to attract world-class entertainment and sports events. But as I sat with my two boys watching a college hockey game and then a minor-league hockey game, I wondered what makes a new stadium or arena truly stand out from the rest.
When I was a sports reporter and living in southern California, I covered the NHL's Anaheim Mighty Ducks, who played in a brand new facility. That was more than a decade ago (gadzooks, time goes by fast!), but the local pride was evident; locals were sure to tell you that the arena was the best in the country.
Was it? I really don't know, though to me it was a comfortable place from which to see or report a game. I also checked out a Billy Joel concert there.
And those memories of that new arena came back to me tonight as I sat in the Consol Energy Center. Is that now the state-of-the-art, stands-out-from-the-test building? Again, I don't know; and that answer is not predicated on not having spent time in other facilities across the country.
So, I'm asking for your help as we come up with an answer to this question: What are the criteria that make a new multi-purpose facility "awesome" or "cool" or "the best"? You can of course engage in a little local pride and offer a "my city's building is the best," but please tell all of us what makes it so.
This could turn out to be a fascinating conversation.