Pittsburgh vs. Detroit: Who has the better building?

Sean Leahy

Friday and Saturday, Puck Daddy's Sean Leahy and Greg Wyshynski are previewing every facet of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings -- on the ice and off the ice.

Both the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins play in classic arenas. And by "classic," we of course mean "ancient." There are 26 players on the finalists' rosters who were born after both stadiums officially opened their doors. Here's the tale of the tape for the respective homes of the Pens and the Wings.

Mellon Arena

Joe Louis Arena




Other Current Tenants

Pittsburgh Explosion (CBA)


Named After

Mellon Financial money-management firm

Heavyweight champion boxer

Most Famous Events

1990 NHL All Star Game


NHL All Star game (video) which featured a 51-year-old Gordie Howe of the Hartford Whalers

1991, 92 Stanley Cup Finals

1980 Republican National Convention

1997, 2002 Stanley Cup clinchers

Cost to Build

$22 million

$57 million


17,132 (with standing room-hockey)

20,066 (hockey)

Also Known As

The Igloo

The Joe

Retired Numbers

#21 Michel Briere

#66 Mario Lemieux

#1 Terry Sawchuck

#6 Larry Aurie

#7 Ted Lindsay

#9 Gordie Howe

#10 Alex Delvecchio

#12 Sid Abel

#16 Vladimir Konstantinov

#19 Steve Yzerman

Championship Banners

1991 and 1992 Stanley Cups

1936, 37, 43, 50, 52, 54, 55, 97, 98, 2002 Stanley Cups

Little Known Fact

Didn't have a name when it was dedicated. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette referred it as the "Civic Arena", which was later adopted.

The Detroit Pistons played a handful of games between 1984 and 1985 due to a collapsed roof at the Silverdome.

Originally built as an opera house

First Event

Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera

University of Michigan v. University of Detroit college basketball game


The extra weight of a new scoreboard in 1995 made opening the domed roof no longer possible.

The tradition of the octopus toss seems to have pissed off Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell. Al Sobotka is not impressed.

First Stanley Cup Finals Game

May 15, 1991 v. Minnesota

June 17, 1995 v. New Jersey


Age of arena does not generate profit for the Penguins, nor does it attract concerts due to poor electrical.

Metal detectors at arena entrance. Then again, it is Detroit.

Showing Its Age

During a game against Toronto in 2006, there was a power failure in certain sections of the arena.

One of the few facilities without a corporate sponsorship name.

Date of Extinction

October, 2009

None in sight

Non-Sporting Trivia

Elvis played his final New Year's Eve concert in 1976 (video)

Jimmy Hoffa disappeared not far from "The Joe"

Welcome to Hollywood

Sudden Death (1995)

The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979)

Best in Show (2000)

She's Out of My League (2008)

Episode of Northern Exposure


To see the Stanley Cup finally raised under its roof

To bring back the desire to own tickets

ADVANTAGE: Pittsburgh, because it looks like a spaceship, the roof has the ability to be opened (though that might be bad idea at this point) and it's in an area with life; unlike The Joe, which from what I found out is in the middle of nothing.