PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s an important Pittsburgh tradition — a big screen for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ playoff games where fans gather to watch the game for free.
But Mayor Bill Peduto is not sure it will happen this year.
“Seems there is a little bit more pressure coming this year from both the NHL and the network to avoid having large scale public broadcasts,” Peduto said on Monday.
Two years ago, the Pens hosted the big screen at the Civic Arena site. Last year, that area was under construction, so the city hosted a big screen in Market Square.
“Trying to work through them is going to be difficult. We’re still trying to find some ways for fans to enjoy the games, especially the away games,” said the mayor.
On Monday, Penguins president David Morehouse ruled out a big screen, at least for the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re not going to have it for the first round. It has nothing to do with the NHL. There’s construction going on across the street,” said Morehouse. “So we’re going to wait until we have a little more time to get it right. We didn’t want to throw it in there with all the construction, so we’re going to wait for the second round, hopefully.”
Morehouse promised eventually, “We’ll have it, but when we have, it’ll be in a way the fans are used to having it with a lot of space, with the food trucks out there, and music.”
The tradition of gathering hockey fans in a community setting for the Penguins playoffs has been growing in popularity, and Pens fans say it would be a great disappointment if that was discontinued this year.
“That would be sad because there are so many fans in this city who would enjoy coming out to see it,” said Rich Bowman of Mt. Lebanon.
“For all of the money they rake in from the high price of these tickets, I find it a little bit silly that they can’t give the city an opportunity to watch their favorite team play for free,” noted Alexa Kennedy of Peters.
Peduto says he’s not given up on a big screen.
“I kind of like the fact that we can provide a free opportunity to the fans. We’ll find some way to work through this,” he said.