Visiting Pittsburgh and especially my hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, is always something very special to me. Even though Pittsburgh Airport gets better and better connected from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, it is always quite a trip to get to Steel City from Germany. I typically try to do three to five matches a season (home or away), so Pittsburgh feels being my “hockey home town” already. Here is my experience visiting matches at PPG Paints Arena, majorly based on two matches in December 2019, but also containing past experience.
PPG Paints Arena – Location & Traffic
PPG Paints Arena is located at the Eastern edge of Pittsburgh Downtown. There are a lot of bars and other places around. The light rail connects the home of the Penguins by the Steel Plaza station, which is a bit more than a five minutes walk. The main entrance is at the Northwestern corner of the arena, near Centre Ave and Washington Place. Another entrance frequently used is Washington Place and 5th Avenue.
PPG Paints Arena is comparably easy to reach by car as well. You will easily find a parking lot for about 20 USD within a five minute walking range. Even the match day parking at the adjacent garage is just about 40 USD. The place of the predecessor of PPG Paints Arena, the former Mellon Arena, which has been turned down, is a parking lot nowadays as well and eases the traffic situation. Especially if you want to leave the arena Southbound, you have to allow for congestion after the match in your time planning.
I will not give any concrete accommodation suggestions in here for PPG Paints Arena. Three hotels, the Cambria, the Marriott Pittsburgh City Center and the DoubleTree Pittsburgh Downtown, are in very close proximity of the arena. As the traffic situation in Pittsburgh is comparably modest, I typically prefer to stay in the suburbs and commute into the city before the match (or earlier to do some sightseeing). In December 2019, I stayed at the DoubleTree at Pittsburgh Green Tree, while in previous stays, I preferred the Hampton Inn at Homestead.
PPG Paints Arena – Arena & Ticket Situation
For ice hockey matches, the capacity of PPG Paints arena is about 18,300, which is quite on the average side for NHL hockey. There are two levels, lower level and upper level, divided by the loges. The Penguins sell well, so that the ticket prices are high, but not aggressive. A ticket behind the goal against a more attractive opponent, lower rank, will roughly be 170 USD. Against Arizona, which is likely a less attractive opponent, I had club seats (see below) for 230 USD roughly. I typically go for lower rank tickets (also of course as the travel expenses are significantly exceeding the ticket costs for me), you have a very good view, unless you hit some very unfortunate angles with the glass around the rink. The Penguins recently sold out their 600th home match in a row. Tickets are in public sale, though.
Of course, there are a lot of opportunities to distract yourself before the match and in the intermission, starting from sponsored booths to charity. There is also a gallery of High School hockey teams in the lower rank walkways.
I had a Club Seat for the first time whilst the Arizona Coyote game in December 2019. The seats are slightly more comfy and there are some exclusive food stores. A very nice feature of the area is a gallery giving you some memories of major moments of the franchise.
PPG Paints Arena – Atmopshere
Pittsburgh has been one of the most successful teams in the last years. Thus, fans are typically quite cheerful. Tehre is also one German player in the squad currently (2019/20 seadon), Dominik Kahun. Like his brother, Jake Guentzel would be eligible for a German passport, but will likely never call this option (as he is strong enough to play for US Hockey as well).
As said above, the atmosphere int he arena is far above NHL average. In some occastions, fans even start to cheer for her team without being animated by moderation and music team.
The mascot of the Penguins is a penguin called Iceburgh.
PPG Paints Arena – Food
The variety of healthy options may be as limited as in German arenas (at least there is sushi and some other not-too-bad meals), but overall, the selection of food is absolutely fine. Having a bite or a drink in the intermission is easy, as most of the food stands are well organized.
PPG Paints Arena – Shopping & Services
The major PensGear store is located inside PPG Paints Arena, but before the ticket control, so that you typically spoil your credit card before or after the match if you going for the larger plastic bags. There are of course minor stores and booths in other parts of the arena. The box office is next to the PensGear store.
PPG Paints Arena – My View
Yes, I am not neutral in this review, as it is some sort of home place to me. Always happy to be at the city of three rivers and countless bridges and see my team. Apart from that sympathy, I feel that the arena is really one of the better options of the NHL. Not any more one of the super-modern venues, the traffic situation is not too bad, the view is nice, you feel entertained and even the food is good. No need to complain – my home team is definitely treating me well and deserve the Top Pick!