Consol Energy Center Celebrates Its Coronation with Sir Paul

19 Aug

Gathered in the lobby a few hours before the Paul McCartney concert opens the arena are Liza Cartmell and Mike McDonald, Aramark; Jay Roberts, SMG GM at Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh; Aramark's Dan Regan; and SMG's Hank Abate. The two sold out shows are the first for Consol Energy Center and the last on McCartney's U.S. tour.

REPORTING FROM PITTSBURGH, PA. — From the local art to the state-of-the-art, the excitement was palpable as Consol Energy Center here opened its doors for its first concert today, Aug. 18. Paul McCartney declared from the stage, “We’re the first people to play here and you are the first people to see people play here. That’s pretty cool.”

Barrie Marshall, Marshall Arts, who has worked with McCartney for years, told Venues Today that McCartney likes to open new buildings. He’s always looking for new markets and new buildings because “people are being given a better experience for their money in a new arena,” Marshall said.

McCartney was set to play a second show Aug. 19, which concludes his “Up and Coming” summer tour which started in Phoenix and has drawn 600,000 people to 25 shows.

For Jay Roberts, general manager of Consol Energy Center for SMG, this day was a long time coming. He’s put in some very long days for six months, partly because he was still operating Mellon Arena, the old home to the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League, at the same time he was opening the new $321 million arena.

Walking the floor before the opening with Liza Cartmell, president of Aramark Sports & Entertainment, was Aramark’s Dan Regan, and they were impressed. Cartmell pointed out the Brewhouse bar on the upper concourse, a pleasant space with a view of downtown Pittsburgh. It’s the kind of space not often seen on the upper levels, she said.

Angus cheeseburgers were selling for $5.75; Italian sausage, $5.50; grilled chicken sandwich, $6.75; Smith’s hot dog, $4.75 and chicken tenders and fries, $8.50. A Pizza Hut Pizza was $9; WingStreet wings, $9.75. A large draft beer retailed for $7.75; a regular draft beer, $5; a regular soda, $4.50; a bottled soda, $4.

The doors were held for 45 minutes because McCartney was late arriving from New York and couldn’t start his sound check until 5:30 p.m. The crowd gathered and when the doors finally opened, the concessions stands were slammed. The subsequent three-hour show had no intermissions, but people found time to buy food and drink.

Merchandise varied from an $85 leather jacket to $40 T-shirts to $20 mugs and programs.

McCartney’s tour arrived in 15 trucks and eight buses. The crew was returning to England Friday. No future tour plans have been announced.

Prior to today, they had hosted 15,000 people are various sneak-a-peek and VIP parties. Tonight was the big test and it did well. — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Jay Roberts, (412) 804-7820; Liza Cartmell, (215) 238-3424; Barrie Marshall, +44 20-7586-3831

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