Penguins Left To Chill

Calls for a new Pittsburgh venue to replace the aging Mellon Arena got an assist from two power outages during a hockey game March 19th, which left fans in the darkened building chanting “new arena.”

A power surge also appeared to be responsible for a small fire in an electrical panel, which was quickly extinguished but could be smelled in the press box.

The problems combined for 38 minutes worth of delays in the second period of the game between the hosting Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs. During the game, a video screen played a promo for an Isle of Capri-proposed arena and gambling facility, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The first interruption caused a delay of 18 minutes and was blamed on a malfunction with the Duquesne Light Co. power line coming into the building, Penguins President Ken Sawyer reportedly said during an impromptu news conference after the game. Four minutes after play resumed, the power went out again, causing a 20-minute delay.

“We started again – we have an alternate source of power – but then Duquesne Light flipped the switch for whatever reason a second time, and that blew the first source, and that’s what caused the problem. At the same time, probably a surge here caused a little fire in an electrical panel. That’s been entirely taken care of,” Sawyer said.

The arena has a backup generator, but the power interruptions themselves were momentary, according to venue officials. However, the building’s metal halide lights require 15 minutes to reset even after the slightest outage.

“It’s not the first time we’ve had this problem with Duquesne Light,” Sawyer said. “I don’t know if it’s the supply coming into the building or a problem with the building itself. I want to find out what’s the problem.”

Some in the crowd of 15,174 chanted “new arena” during the stoppages, and Sawyer also made a quip about the building, which is the oldest and smallest in the National Hockey League.

“My first thoughts were we need a new arena,” Sawyer said during the news conference. As for the panel fire, “It was never a safety issue.”