Petersen Events Center – Pittsburgh Panthers
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The Panther’s Pitt
The University of Pittsburgh is one of the oldest academic institutions in the country, as it was founded in 1787. Today it is a highly regarded research university with nearly 29,000 students. Its’ best known campus landmark is the Cathedral of Learning, a 42 story academic building in the middle of the campus. Built in 1937, it is the tallest academic building in the US and the second tallest in the world.
Basketball has been played at Pitt since 1905 with numerous facilities housing the program over the years. Since 2002 the Panther basketball program has called the 12,508 seat Petersen Events Center home. It is nicknamed “The Pete” and in addition to housing the basketball program, it is designed to serve multiple purposes for the University of Pittsburgh’s student body and the greater Pittsburgh community. Among the uses for the Event Center are a food court for students during the academic day, a full-service student recreation center, classrooms and meeting space and the site for major concerts on campus. “The Pete” is also used for Pitt’s graduation ceremonies, which formerly had to take place outdoors.
Though many people think of the University of Pittsburgh as a “football school” due to the exploits of alums Tony Dorsett and Dan Marino, the school has quite a basketball pedigree. The Panthers were longtime members of the Big East Conference, where they won six conference championships. Panther teams have made it to the NCAA’s Elite 8 twice and the Sweet Sixteen five times. 15 Panther players have gone on to play in the NBA. In 2013, the Panthers were accepted as new members of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Though they have not won an ACC title, the Panthers are known as “giant killers”, upsetting many of the conference elite over the years.
Food and Beverage 3
The Petersen Events Center has a permanent food court in the main lobby of the building. These restaurants are available to students during the academic day, as well as on event nights. They are the Burrito Bowl, Pizza Hut Express, Salad Sensations, Burger King and SubConnection. In addition, many stands in the arena serve many of the ethnic specialties Pittsburgh is known for, including Italian sausages, kielbasa and weinschnitzel.
The other concession stands within the facility offer sports standards such as hot dogs ($4), pretzels ($5), chicken sandwiches ($5), popcorn ($4), candy ($3), sodas ($5) and bottled water ($4). Alcohol is not served Pitt games.
You will be impressed with the Petersen Events Center from the moment you see it on the Pitt campus. The Events Center has a very prominent location atop the highest elevation point at the school. Architecturally, it is a very modern building, with a glass and steel exterior. Its front entryway is guarded by one of the many panther statues found throughout the campus.
Upon entering “The Pete” you immediately realize you are in a first-class facility. It features a lobby with a 90 foot high ceiling and marble floors with a panther’s head logo inlayed into the floor. The lobby is also home to the Panthers team store, the McCarl Panthers Hall of Fame and a five store food court. The interior sections of the building are equally impressive, as the playing area features the blue and gold color scheme of Panther athletics. The seating bowl features numerous levels, which are all accessible by escalators. The center hung HD video/scoreboard was installed in 2013, as were the ribbon boards that encircle the seating area.
The arena features 18 luxury suites, including 5 suites at the court level. These suites are literally an extension of the basketball floor. While many NBA arenas have this feature, “The Pete” is the only college facility to incorporate this into the building design.
The Peterson Event Center is an on-campus facility at the University of Pittsburgh. The campus is in the Oakland section of the city of Pittsburgh. Oakland is known for the many academic, healthcare, cultural facilities and parks within its boundaries. The neighborhood is home to three universities (Pitt, Carnegie Mellon University and Carlow University.) Among the attractions in the area are the Phipps Conservatory and Gardens and the Carnegie Museum of the Arts. The Oakland community also offers an outlet of the legendary Primanti Brothers restaurant. For a great dining and drinking experience, Fuel and Fuddle Gastropub offers a broad selection of microbrews and delicious pub fare.
The Petersen Event Center has been rated as one of the most difficult places to play in the country by several sports publications. USA Today ranks it as the “second best game day environment in the country”, trailing only Duke University. ESPN ranks it as the “sixth loudest college basketball venue in the country”. These ratings are supported by the Panthers home winning percentage of .864 since “The Pete” opened. The Panthers also have had a 40 game home winning streak during the 2002-2004 season.
Much of the credit for the intimidation factor of “The Pete” goes to the Oakland Zoo. The Oakland Zoo is not a zoological park, but the student section at Pitt Panthers games. They are tactically placed on the sides of, and along the base lines of the court. The name was coined from the Oakland neighborhood surrounding the campus and the zoo like antics of the group. The Zoo’s primary function is to make as much noise as possible and be as distracting as they can on the opposing team. There are more than 1,500 inhabitants of this zoo, and it is the largest official student organization on the University of Pittsburgh campus. In addition to its gameday function, the organization also participates in philanthropic events in the Oakland community.
The Peterson Events Center interior is extremely well designed as far as accessibility. It features a huge entry lobby and the wide concourses that allow for an easy flow during breaks in the action. Escalators are available at each level of the eating bowl, minimizing the number of steps to negotiate. The seats in the arena provide good leg room and are equipped with drink holders.
Concession facilities are well placed in both the lobby and in the seating area as well. TV monitors are placed at each stand, so you will not miss any of the action. There are plentiful restrooms for a facility of this size.
Unfortunately, the hilly terrain in the Pittsburgh area makes getting to the arena more of an issue. The streets through downtown Pittsburgh are quite curvy, which slows down traffic dramatically on game nights. In addition a number of turns onto side streets is required as you come into the Oakland neighborhood. Parking for “The Pete” on game days is very congested, but is available at the following on campus parking facilities: Soldiers and Sailors, Kauffman and Towerview. Parking is $10 on event days. For directions to “The Pete” and the parking facilities go to www.peterseneventscenter.com. There is a hill to negotiate after you leave the parking facilities and a flight of stairs to climb to enter the main entrance to the Event Center. A ramp and drop off area is available for those with disabilities.
Return On Investment 4
Tickets to all Pitt basketball games are $45, no matter what the seat location. However, a majority of the games featuring an ACC opponent, or a highly ranked opponent are sellouts. Tickets will be much more on the secondary ticket market. Parking in university-controlled lots is $10. Concessions at “The Pete” are reasonably priced. Hotels in the Oakland neighborhood surrounding the university average $130 a night.
In addition to being a heavily used events center, “The Pete” also performs an important function logistically for the University of Pittsburgh campus. The campus is very hilly, and the Events Center is built on a 90-foot slope. Rather than walking up or down this steep incline, students can make the trip between the upper and lower campuses via “The Pete’s” corridor of elevators / escalators. The building serves as bridge between the two campuses.
The Events Center has hosted a wide variety of concerts for University of Pittsburgh student body. Among the artist who have appeared at the venue are Pink, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Cher, Bob Dylan, the Black Keys, Ariana Grande, Green Day and Phish.
The McCarl Panthers Hall of Fame located in the lobby of “The Pete” is well worth a visit.
“The Pete” is located at the highest elevation on the University of Pittsburgh campus. It has a rooftop terrace that provides a stunning view of the Cathedral of Learning and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The Pitt campus occupies several sites in Pittsburgh’s glorious sports history. The Petersen Events Center occupies the former site of the Pitt Football Stadium, where Tony Dorsett and Dan Marino played during their college careers. Another part of the campus was built on the footprint of Forbes Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Bill Mazeroski.
The Petersen Events Center is truly the “hub” of the University of Pittsburgh campus. It not only hosts the school’s major athletic events, but also serves as a bridge between the upper and lower campuses and houses the student recreation center. It also features a food court that is utilized by all students when an event is not underway.
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