Another week in the books.  Another interesting week I should say.  It is certainly satisfying when I realize how much exposure I am gaining to various aspects of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.  On the political side, I attended a public hearing and a local community meeting this week, in addition to participating in some internal discussions about the Supplier Diversity Program and the First Source Hiring Program.  On the Operations side I assisted with activities for the two Penguins playoff games on Wednesday and Friday.  One thing I have noted is that in this unique position, I am exposed to "fans" that are obviously huge supporters of the team, but also come in contact with other individuals that are not completely in concert with the actions of the organization.  This situation provides a nice balance in my opinion.

At the Zoning Hearing, which was presided over by members of the Pittsburgh City Council, the Penguins made their case for a variance in conjunction with the new parking lot that will be built on the side of the demolished Civic Arena.  Specifically, it seems foolish to landscape the parking lot in accordance with city ordinance if that lot is only going to be temporarily.  The plan is to develop that land and remove the parking within the next few years.  As one person put it, "interim parking lots are fine, interim trees are not."  Some members of the local community used this hearing as an opportunity to express their concerns about the intentions of the Penguins in the larger context of the development.  It is absolutely their right (and on some level their civic duty) to raise these concerns in front of the local government, and I commend them for making their voice heard.  Obviously though the scope of this particularly hearing was fairly small only that it was intended to deal only with the landscaping variance for the proposed parking lot and was not necessarily the time or place to discuss the development as a whole.  All involved parties though want to make sure that they are considering the wishes of the local community which will be significantly impacted (hopefully in a positive way) by the development plans of the Penguins.

At the local community meeting on Friday, individuals associated with the development explained to the group (about 60 citizens and representatives of other local organizations) where the project is currently and what the next steps are.  It does not seem like anyone is opposed to the development.  Ultimately this could be a very good thing for the community.  There are obviously people that are concerned that none of the benefits of the proposed development will actually reach the Hill District.  Again, I commend them for showing their concern with their presence and their voice.  I think that everyone wants the same thing, the Penguins, the city of Pittsburgh, the development companies that are involved and the residents and leadership of the Hill.  We all want to make sure that everyone benefits from the project.  Obviously when you have something with such a large scope that will affect so many people, it is not always easy to come to consensus as to how to accomplish those goals.

I had my first exposure to game operations this week too, which I described in some detail in the previous post.  Both Wednesday and Friday at the Penguins first two playoff games I helped hand out programs and "rally towels" at one of the gates and participated in some other in-game promotions.  People love free stuff!  That's obvious.  It is also neat to watch so many fans on their way into a playoff game.  For many this will be the best part of their day and it's nice to play a small part in it.

Unfortunately the team itself struggled in the first two games.  The arch rival Flyers were able to win both games here in Pittsburgh.  If the Pens don't win one in Philadelphia tomorrow or Wednesday, that's going to be it for this season.  Last night was particularly brutal with the Penguins taking a 3-1 advantage into the first intermission.  The Penguins were able to score two more goals but both times the Flyers returned the favor almost immediately.  Ultimately the home team went down 8-5 with the last goal being scored into an empty net in the last minute of the game.  Giving up eight goals does not bode well for the Penguins chances in the this series.  We'll hope for the best as the action moves to Philadelphia tomorrow.

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