On September 17, 1961, the arena finally opened after over three years of construction with an ice skating exhibition. The Hornet's played their first game there shortly after this in October. The Hornet's went onto a winning season and won the first professional hockey championship in the city, The Calder Cup. The Pittsburgh Penguins began using the arean in 1967.
With the addition of luxury boxes and additional seating, the arena eventually had the capacity of 17,537 which allowed it to host events like the NHL All Star Game in 1990. The arena also hosted the Stanley Cup Playoffs five times (1991,1992, 2008, 2009, and 2010.) Pittsburgh-based Mellon Bank purchased the naming rights to the Civic Arena in 1999.
Despite the success of the Penguins, the building began to show its age. During a hockey game in 2006, for example, the lights failed completely due to an electrical fire. Mellon Bank did not renew their contract for naming rights in 2010. In that year, the last paid event was held at the arena on July 26th when James Taylor and Carol King performed in concert. Demolition of the building began in 2011 after attempts to preserve the arena as both a historic site and downtown venue. Demolition ended in March 2012.