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This week in Pittsburgh Sports History 

Civic Arena in 2010 - CP PHOTO BY ALEX GORDON
  • CP photo by Alex Gordon
  • Civic Arena in 2010

Feb. 8, 1953

Mayor David L. Lawrence announces plans to build a “civic theater” Downtown to provide a permanent venue for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Orchestra. Eight years later, the Civic Auditorium was completed, boasting the first retractable-roof on a sports venue in the world. Over its 49 years in existence, the arena hosted The Beatles and Elvis; monster-truck derbies; boxing and wrestling matches; the filming of the Jean Claude Van Damme movie Sudden Death; and, of course, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ home ice. The Civic Arena was demolished in 2011. 

Feb. 9, 2002

A proud day for Pittsburgh football coaches winning meaningless games: Steelers head coach Bill Cowher wins his third Pro Bowl for the AFC, tying his predecessor Chuck Noll. (At the latest Pro Bowl, on Jan. 28, current Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin took home another win for the AFC, 24-23.) 

Feb. 11, 2011

A grand total of 65 penalties and more than 300 penalty minutes are handed out at a rambunctious match-up between the Penguins and the New York Islanders. The bad blood traces to another rowdy contest between the two teams earlier that month, which included the ever-elusive goalie fight, between Brent Johnson and Rick DiPietro. Johnson had knocked out DiPietro with a single brutal punch, benching DiPietro for six weeks. Ahead of the rematch, Islanders players intimate to the press that payback for DiPietro is likely, but no one predicts the bedlam that ensues. The Islanders take a 6-0 lead in the second period, and the rest is pretty much just brawling. There are sucker punches, benches cleared, and plenty of ejections, leaving a total of nine eligible players for both teams by the end of the game. In the aftermath, three players face suspensions, and the Islanders are fined $100,000 for “failure to control their players.” 

Feb. 12, 2014

Despite making earlier statements to the press that he would retire, or return to the Pirates for the 2014 season, starting pitcher A.J. Burnett signs with cross-state “rivals” the Philadelphia Phillies for one year. It’s a bummer, but a short-lived one: In 2015, he would return to the Bucs and retire a Pirate.


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