The team 04/29/2012
 
I have been very lucky to work with Kim Wood and Abass Kamara while with the Penguins organization.  The experience has been incredibly gratifying.  As a direct result of my time here I have decided that I will seek a career in this capacity beyond my internship.  There is something incredibly rewarding about being connected to a professional sports organization and being able to use that brand to affect positive change in the local community and beyond.  I am sure that on some level every pro sports team attempts to do good things outside of simply entertaining the masses.  I think that the Penguins though, based on my experience generally go out of their way to make sure that they are attempting to help others whenever possible.

I have learned a great deal from Kim and Abass during my time with the Penguins and I expect to learn a great deal more as I go forward.  Here is a picture of the three of us.  Good looking haircuts on these two guys.
 
Simple trick 04/29/2012
 
Perhaps this is nothing new to others but I figured I would share.

Do you have an enormous stack of papers in your office or on your desk somewhere that has been accumulating for years?  Perhaps it is a pile of items that you feel are important enough to hold onto, but not important enough to organize in any meaningful fashion?  I know that I used to have many such stacks of paper.

Behold the scanner.  In the past few weeks I have removed massive stacks of paper from the Director of Government Affairs' desk.  All of the items are scanned onto a drive, given a very detailed description in the file name (which includes a date) and then organized into easily transferable folders.  It's so easy!  Although a tad time-consuming to scan all of those documents, the end result is well worth it.  Instead of a stack of papers that are essentially useless except for whatever happens to be on top, now you have a well-organized set of documents on hard drive or server that is easily referable.

Do I sound like a big nerd?

Fair enough.

I'll say it again, I can't tell you how gratifying it is to make those unsightly stacks of paper disappear.  Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.  My only fear is that I did such a good job with Abass' office that now I will be recruited
 
 
I have been given a golden opportunity to present my worth to the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.  One of the many facets of the 28 acres project is a freeway cap.  Coming from Columbus I am very familiar with this type of development.  Essentially a freeway cap is where a bridge which (crosses a major highway) is expanded to become more than just a road to that cars pass over.  It is a very interesting feat because it often creates prime space literally out of thin air.

If you have ever been to Columbus, Ohio you may be familiar with the Cap project over I-670 downtown.  High Street, a major artery in Columbus that passes right through the middle of the city and through Ohio State University was expanded where it passes over 670.  Not only did this expansion create retail space on either side of High St, but it also makes the interstate highway "disappear" to those traveling along High St. either by car or more importantly by foot.  The cap project in Columbus reconnected the Convention Center and northern parts of downtown Columbus with the Short North District.  Having spent most of the last 20 years in Colmbus, Ohio I can tell you that the project has been a resounding success.  You can see an aerial view of the Columbus Cap here:
The 28 acre project will also include a freeway cap element.  While not quite as extensive as the Columbus cap, it will be similar.  There will not be any retail space on this bridge, but it will be expanded to include green space and make it a more inviting thoroughfare for pedestrians.  One of the main objectives of the entire development is to reconnect the Hill District with the downtown Pittsburgh area.

I have been asked to do research into how exactly these cap projects in other cities came about, specific to government funding and procedure.  The most important aspect of the project is to determine where the money will come from to pay for it.  There are also a series of approvals that will take place to ensure that the project is in line with local, state and federal laws.  The cap near the Consol Energy Center will pass over Federal Highway 579.  Obviously whenever you are dealing with a federal highway you have to involve the federal government.  Undoubtedly this will involve a lot of "red tape" for lack of a better term.

I have the opportunity however to provide meaningful information that will have a significant impact on the future of the project.  It is very gratifying after a relatively short period of time with the organization to be given the chance to do something important and to prove my worth to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In the picture below you can see the Consol Energy Center on the left, the now-demolished Civic Arena on the right, and the edge of downtown Pittsburgh near the top of the picture.  In between the Consol Energy Center and downtown Pittsburgh you can see Highway 579 passing through the city.  The freeway is already lowered which in other cities has been a major aspect of the project.  However, in Pittsburgh all that will be necessary is to extend and revamp the bridge that is already existing.
 
Sum it up 04/25/2012
 
One of the things that I do for Kim Wood, the Director of Outreach, is summarize her activities.  This includes meeting minutes and descriptions of other events that we participate in on behalf of the Penguins.  The summaries provide a way to share with others what types of Outreach activit

Below you will find one such summary.  This one was for a program called "The Best Kept Secret".  It's a program that was started by Rob Wilson of Blazer Capital here in Pittsburgh.  The central message of the program is to show high school students that there is a world of possibility out there in terms of finding a successful career.  Nowadays kids are often inundated by images of athletes and entertainers.  Obviously it's very, very difficult to make it big in either one of those industries.  There are lots of successful people out there though that you've never heard of and Rob is seeking to share that message with students.  He does this by exposing students to things that they might not otherwise get a chance to see.

On Friday his group came to the Consol Energy Center and received a tour of the facility.  I took a number of pictures of their visit, all of which are included in the summary which you can access right here:
best_kept_secret_-_consol_energy_center_visit.docx
File Size: 1088 kb
File Type: docx
Download File

 
Busy! 04/24/2012
 
The last two days have been busy.  Lest anyone think that as soon as the Penguins season is over that everything comes to a halt, that certainly has not been my experience over the previous 48 hours.

I have assisted the Director of Outreach, Kim Wood with several initiatives.  The first of those were the Supplier Diversity Program Quarterly meeting.  I helped Kim put together a PowerPoint presentation for the various stakeholders in the program to review.  In addition to the Penguins, there is SMG, which manages the Consol Energy Center facility, and also ARAMARK which handles all of the concessions within the building.  The Supplier Diversity program is designed to provide opportunities to minority owned and women owned businesses.  You can imagine the number of suppliers that a place like the Consol Energy Center utilizes on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.  Everything from garbage bags, to pencils to waste removal and plastic eating utensils have to come from somewhere.  Coordinating the efforts of all of the people involved in purchasing these products requires a great deal of communication and organization.

There was another PowerPoint presentation required for today's First Source Hiring Center Quarterly Meeting.  This meeting was held at the Cambria Suites hotel which is directly adjacent to the Consol Energy Center.  Cambria Suites is one of several different organizations that the Penguins are partnering with to help meet the terms of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).  The CBA is a binding document that stipulates Hill District residents are to be given preference for employment opportunities at the Consol Energy Center and the associated businesses.  This includes the hotel, the company that handles the parking, security, the T.G.I.Fridays restaurant and others. 

Finally tonight I went to a community meeting where a presentation was made regarding Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  This transit system operates very similar to a light rail but utilizes buses.  Because it does not need as much infrastructure, a BRT is considerably less expensive than a rail system, which typically costs a city billions of dollars to implement.  The city of Pittsburgh is considering a BRT and is soliciting feedback from the community.  This particular meeting was held in the Hill District and therefore is relevant to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  To say that the meeting was sparsely attended is an insult to sparsely attended meetings.  There were almost as many representatives of the Penguins (3) as there were residents (4).  Opportunities for public feedback are an important part of the process, but unfortunately the public was none too involved in this particularly forum.  The cookies were good though!
 
It's all over. 04/23/2012
 
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Unfortunately the Pittsburgh Penguins season ended yesterday in Philadelphia.  After losing the first three games of the first round playoff series with the arch rival Flyers, the Penguins clawed their way back to a 3-2 deficit with some inspired performances both home and away.  Unfortunately there was no margin for error left and the Penguins went somewhat quietly, 5-1 Sunday afternoon in eastern Pennsylvania.  It is a disappointing end to the season as their were high hopes surrounding the team entering the playoffs.  Of course, every team except one finishes the season with disappointment.  The Penguins have a strong nucleus so there is little doubt they will be back in contention next season.

I was somewhat startled to see that less than 24 hours after the season ended in Philadelphia, that the ice in Consol Energy Center (CEC) was already gone.  It does occur to me that when you're air-conditioning such an enormous arena, you want to raise the temperature as soon as you're able to.  I do not know the exact number (I'm checking on it) but I would imagine the cost to keep the CEC cool enough to maintain the ice is extremely high. 

Other Stanley Cup playoff signage had been taken down quickly as well.  There's always next year.

 
The Big Screen 04/21/2012
 
Another example of the Pittsburgh Penguins doing things strictly for the fans is the Big Screen that is put up for fans during the playoffs.  If you're not lucky enough to get inside Consol Energy Center for the game, you can sit outside and watch on a 16' screen for free!  We've been pretty lucky with the weather for the three games in Pittsburgh and as a result, roughly 1,000 fans have shown up to watch the game outside.  Many come hours in advance of the game to get a good seat.

In these pictures you can see the Big Screen in the background and fans already lining up in rows with their chairs and blankets.  The Penguins passed out signs for the fans to wave while they watched the game.  The area is cordoned off and everyone entering the area is searched by security just to make sure that things don't get too rowdy.  As a result, it's a very family friendly atmosphere.  Lots of students come across the street from Duquesne University to watch too.  In these pictures you can see fellow interns Susanne and Ryan trying to look busy...
Here is an article from a local newspaper that talks about one Penguins fan that has been showing up to watch the Big Screen for years with his...trumpet?
Here are a few more pictures of the Big Screen.  In the first one you can see my mentor, the Director of Government Affairs Abass B. Kamara looking on.  Every day that the screen was put up Abass and I would go check in the afternoon to make sure that everything was going smoothly with the setup.  It is Abass' job to make sure that the church next door, which has graciously agreed to let us use their parking lot for the Big Screen is OK with the amount of room that's being utilized. 
This footage, again shot with my iPhone, gives you an idea of where the Big Screen is in relation to the Consol Energy Center.  You will notice also a landscaped area in between the church and the Consol Energy Center.  In the original plans for the building this area was to be a decorative passageway that would lead from Fifth Avenue up to Centre Avenue.  The project is still seeking funding.  Hopefully the passageway will eventually be completed.  For the time being you must walk all the way around the church to get up to Cente Avenue. 
 
Zamboni ride! 04/20/2012
 
One of the most rewarding things I've done as part of my internship happened tonight.  I was able to assist with the Zamboni ride promotion.  The Pittsburgh Penguins host active duty servicemen and women for the game.  During the intermissions, these men and women are given the opportunity to ride the Zamboni machine while it cleans the ice.  It is a small gesture but it is always nice to do something for the men and women that sacrifice so much for the rest of us.

Tonight MP Brandon Doyle and Staff Sgt. Jonathan Graham were seated in the upper bowl of the arena.  Sitting in this section allows them to bring family and friends along with them to the game if they so choose.  Myself and another intern were told exactly where Jonathan and Brandon would be seated.  We went up to their section with plenty of time to spare before the intermission so that we could explain to them exactly what would happen and to escort them down to the ice.  The servicemen and women know that they'll be riding the Zamboni ahead of time so it's not as if we're surprising them.

We had no trouble locating Jonathan but there was a problem.  Brandon was not seated where we were told he was going to be.  Uh oh.  Time was winding down in the period.  I would feel horrible if someone missed their opportunity to ride the Zamboni at a Pittsburgh Penguins game!  Jonathan and the other intern headed down to the ice.  I stayed up top to see if I could figure out where Brandon was.  This is where cell phones sure do come in handy.  I contacted Julie Klausner who is one of the people in charge of promotions with the Penguins.  I was trying to explain to her the problem but there was just one problem.  At that moment the Penguins scored the go-ahead goal.  The entire arena went completely nuts.  I couldn't hear a thing.  I walked as far away from the crowd as I could but it was still deafening. 

Fortunately after a minute or two I was able to understand Julie again.  There had been some miscommunication regarding where Brandon was seated.  I immediately headed to the correct section (which fortunately was not far away) and before I even got there I saw an usher standing with a gentleman and pointing at me.  On game nights I stick out in the crowd a little bit because I have on a suit and tie.  Most fans don't show up in their Sunday best.

I felt very relieved to find Brandon.  He and I immediately headed for the elevator so that we could get to the ice.  I took several pictures of Brandon and Jonathan getting ready to head out to the ice on the Zamboni machine.
Below is some footage that I shot with my iPhone.  This one shows the Zamboni machines, with their passengers, headed out to the ice.
These next two YouTube videos show Brandon and Jonathan riding around on the ice.  Brandon is shooting a little footage with his phone too.  While they're riding around they're introduced to the crowd which gives them an ovation.  Again, it's a small gesture but a nice way to recognize servicemen and women.  Incidentally this is the closest I get to the ice during a game too, even though the game isn't going on.
And here are the last two which show Brandon and Jonathan returning from the ice.  Jonathan is greeted by his parents who get a picture with the Zamboni.  As Brandon returns I commend him for not falling off during his ride!
After the Zamboni ride was over we escorted these two young men back to their seats.  Brandon told me he had just returned from a deployment in Korea.  He's a long time Penguins fan and was thrilled to be able to see a playoff game.  I thanked him for his service and said good bye.  It may not seem like a big deal but I couldn't be prouder to have done something for someone that really, really deserves our thanks.  I can only hope that there will be more opportunities like this one in the future.
 
Game Five 04/20/2012
 
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The Penguins hosted the Philadelphia Flyers for Game Five of the Stanley Cup Playoffs first round.  It was another do-or-die situation for the Penguins after losing the first three games of the seven game series.  The crowd was extremely loud from the onset.

As part of my in-game obligations I assist with various promotions that go on during the intermissions.  Usually all I have to do is carry items that will be given away to a particular section.  We make sure to arrive with plenty of time left in the period in case there is any confusion or if adjustments need to be made.

This gives me the best opportunity to simply watch the game.  The picture to the left gives you a very good idea of where I would watch the game from.  The good thing is I have a great vantage point from which to see the action.  The bad part is I have to stand the whole time.

Now I'm sure that there are many people that would give their left arm to be able to watch a Stanley Cup playoff game from this angle.  I have to be completely honest though, by this time I've been running around for 12 hours.  My feet are killing me!  I know I shouldn't complain, but it's not all glamor.  And yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds.

Fortunately the Penguins were victorious this night, hanging on 3-2 while goalie Marc-Andre Fleury held off shot after shot from the Flyers in the third period.  The Penguins live to fight another day.  The series heads back to Philadelphia on Sunday.

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Thursday night I attended the Community College of Alleghany County Legends Dinner on behalf of the Pittsburgh Penguins along with other employees and guests of the organization.  The dinner was held in the East Club Lounge at Heinz Field, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers (pictured).  The charity event raises a great deal of money for the school (which is located in close proximity to Heinz Field) and honors alumni and notable members of the community. 

In truth I knew little about the school or about the honorees, with one exception.  Art Rooney Jr. was one of the individuals being recognized at the dinner.  As president of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mr. Rooney is as close as you can be to royalty in the city of Pittsburgh.  I was hoping that he might share some remarks as to how exactly the Steelers have managed to remain so strong in the NFL for so long but unfortunately for this long-suffering Cincinnati Bengals fans, he was gracious and brief.

I might also add that the food was outstanding!  Finding free meals is a critical part of the process when you're an unpaid intern.  Events like these are a great way to network.  My mentor, Abass Kamara, was able to introduce me to a number of people during the proceedings.  Always important to remember that it's not what you know, but who you know.