The Architecture of Wrestling – The Igloo

Yes kids, it did really open.

Yes kids, it did really open.

The WWE is putting on their next pay per view, Bragging Rights, at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The venue is near and dear to yours truly as I’ve attended several games there to watch my beloved Penguins. The Civic Arena, as it was originally known, was originally built in 1961 for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. As usual, if you want more about it’s history, head here.

Only I would draw parallels between the Pantheon and Mellon Arena.

Only I would draw parallels between the Pantheon and Mellon Arena.

I’ll do a revisit on this building if I attend a game before they implode the oldest venue in the NHL for the new Consol Energy Center which will be completed in August of 2010. It does give me time to make a correction about the architects who build a lot of arenas and stadiums. They were formerly HOK Sport Venue Event but are now called Populous who designed Consol Energy Center. For now, I’ll go off fond memories and a bevy of pictures, something that has been sorely lacking in most of my write ups.

A little perspective to show the surrpounding area.

A little perspective to show the surrounding area.

There actually isn’t a large amount to say about the design of the building. As anyone can tell, the main portion of this building is the retracable roof. Because it is supported by a 260 foot arch so there is no internal framing which leaves all views unobstructed inside the arena. The roof still can retract into the 2 panels to each side of the support arch. The design of the roof (and the lower portion even) reminds me of another self supporting dome, the Pantheon in Rome. It also happens to have an opening (the oculus) in it too.

It's the 260 foot support arch, like duh!

It's the 260 foot support arch, like duh!

The lower portion of the building takes cues from the Pantheon because it doesn’t mimic it directly. Columns come down at a regular interval which is similar to the ones that support the dome inside the Pantheon. The columns are stripped down which is unlike the decorative Corinthian columns used at the Pantheon. The height of the lower portion limits the design possibilities and makes it pretty utilitarian.

A ticket window with an awning and sets of double doors are all pretty dull.

Ticket windows with awnings and sets of double doors are all pretty dull.

Even though I have a lot of fond memories and the fact that this arena was the first one with a retractable roof, the building itself is pretty plain. I have already started forming opinions on the Consol Energy Center but I’ll wait until it is finalized before review it. At least I still have the bragging rights to say that the defending Stanley Cup Champions play in this building for one last season. – Kevin

3 Responses to “The Architecture of Wrestling – The Igloo”

  1. Craig 2010-02-26 at 9:34 am #

    I am working on a TV show about the history of Civic (Mellon) Arena in Pittsburgh and I came across your blog entry during some research.

    I am looking for any and all pictures of the arena, events in the arena, etc. Especially from the 60’s through the 80’s.

    Can you help me out at all? Please email at

  2. Ryan 2010-04-09 at 1:22 am #

    I just watched the last home game ever in the Igloo tonight!!!!! That place is going to be greatly missed. . . and that’s and understatment. I cant believe they’re actually going to tear it down. That will be a sad sad day, especially for anyone who ever attended a Penguins game, concert, or any other event held there over the many years. I am blessed to have been able to watch them play one of their last games in person. Lets hope the Energy Center lives up to the hype, though it will never replace the IGLOO!!!!

    • stuntgranny 2010-04-13 at 2:04 pm #

      I’ll be heading there is the Pens get into the second round. I wanted to get to regular season game but was strapped fro cash. The early work for CEC looks pretty nice and seeing as though they modeled it along the lines of Nationwide Arena, which I hit often since I live in Columbus, it should live up to the hype. I’m shaving today to start the playoff beard for tomorrow. Let’s Go Pens! – K

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