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Design & Development

Penguins set out plans to maintain PPG Paints Arena as ‘world-class destination’

NHL ice hockey franchise the Pittsburgh Penguins has unveiled plans for over $30m (£25.1m/€28.3m) of investments and upgrades to its PPG Paints Arena home.

Highlighting the team’s plans are the addition of two new bunker suites at ice level and an all-inclusive VIP event-level club to provide premium experiences for hockey fans and concert guests. Improving PPG Paints Arena’s ability to attract major concerts, along with enhancing the fan experience generally, are said to be the main aims of the project.

Populous, the original architects of PPG Paints Arena when it opened in 2010, designed the plans, which are being implemented this summer by the Penguins and OVG360, the arena’s management company.

OVG360, a division of venue development, advisory and investment company Oak View Group, was appointed to manage, book and operate PPG Paints Arena in June. OVG360 was selected by Fenway Sports Group, which completed a $900m takeover of the Penguins in December 2021.

It replaced ASM Global in the role, with the initial announcement stating that OVG360 would make substantial private investments into PPG Paints Arena to improve its fan experience and operational infrastructure, with a view to contributing “more aggressively” to the quality and diversity of entertainment in the Pittsburgh region.

The team plans to build two additional bunker suites next to the Penguins’ runway and bench adjacent to the Suite 66, the existing premium space honouring Hall-of-Famer and hockey legend Mario Lemieux. These improvements will offer premium lower-bowl seating, as well as dining and entertainment space, full-service bars and private restrooms. All three suites will have an exclusive view of the areas outside of the Penguins’ locker room on the event level.

In addition, the team is building a new all-inclusive VIP event level club located in the Penguins’ double-attack zone, with access to Section 109 for hockey games and special premium seating next to the stage for concerts. The new club can accommodate up to 300 people, and converts underutilised areas of PPG Paints Arena into a large high-quality VIP event club. 

Capping off the planned arena improvements is investment to upgrade the entire in-game entertainment technology system at PPG Paints Arena. These improvements include a new 50-foot by 33-foot state-of-the-art centre hung scoreboard, about twice as large as the existing scoreboard, new LED ribbon boards, sound system, control room, and content management system.

These upgrades represent a significant enhancement from what was originally announced in December, with the scoreboard itself increasing in size from 3,950 square feet to 6,237 square feet. The overall improvements include financial support from the arena owner, Pittsburgh’s Sports and Exhibition Authority (SEA).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the SEA approved the changes yesterday (Thursday) and will contribute nearly $6.4m to help with the scoreboard replacement and to install the new sound system and ribbon boards in the seating bowl and at the ticket office. The Penguins’ $30m investment will cover their share of the scoreboard and the event club and suite upgrades.

Construction is set to begin during the off-season, with the Penguins stating that fans can expect to enjoy the new spaces and upgrades for the start of the 2023-24 NHL season. “We are committed to maintaining PPG Paints Arena as a world-class destination not only for Penguins hockey, but for concerts and marquee events,” said Penguins president of business operations, Kevin Acklin.

“We are investing millions to replace our entire in-game entertainment technology, as well as building exciting new premium spaces, to offer immersive experiences for our fans and guests that will be truly unique to our Pittsburgh market.”