New Pitt Stadium site concept… and a heck of a view (Part II)

(If you missed Part I, I highly encourage you to read it before continuing with this.)

I want to tell you the story of a college football program.

This program has had success through the years (nine championships), but fortunes are not as good as they once were. Fans remember the good ol’ days — successful seasons at the stadium on campus. Sure, it was too big and past its time, but the best times the program ever had were when they played there. But the university had to tear it down to make room for new buildings, and who needs a big football stadium on an urban campus anyway?

So the team moved to an NFL stadium. Of course, it’s a grand venue. Better than most schools in the conference have. But the atmosphere is lacking. College fans can’t fill up all those seats. So while it is nice to have NFL facilities, some fans see this team (right in a football-lovin’ region) and think, “wouldn’t this all look better if we were back on campus in a smaller stadium?”

The school put plans in motion for a new stadium on campus. Of course, it is a crowded area. Neighbors of the university were rightly concerned: How will you deal with the traffic and noise? Where will everyone park? Aren’t you already playing in a perfectly good stadium? Why is this necessary?

The neighbors’ qualms were taken into account, and the university offered new plans to address those traffic, parking and noise issues. And the stadium looks great! It is compact and fans get great sightlines close to the field. Did it solve the team’s attendance problem? No. Only winning will do that. But nowadays, 27,000 fans look better when they fill 90% of the seats instead of 33%.

That is the story, so far, of Tulane University football.


Check out Tulane University's new on-campus stadium after years in the too-big Superdome.

Check out Tulane University’s new on-campus stadium after years in the too-big Superdome.

I will grant you: Tulane’s story is not identical to Pitt’s story.

Those nine championships? Conference championships, not national ones.The attendance struggles? Caused by being a laughingstock, not just a disappointment (think four bowl appearances in the last 30 years). And Tulane certainly is playing in a less-renowned conference now; they would never need 70,000 seats unless they were playing LSU.

Most of the facts about Tulane and Pitt, however, are congruent. If you don’t believe me, go back and read the story again. Tell me how Pitt is that much different.

So with that story in mind, I present my site proposal for New Pitt Stadium.

New Pitt Stadium Within Oakland

In the heart of Oakland, there is space for a football stadium that suits Pitt’s needs.

The stadium site would be bound by Bigelow Boulevard to the west, Tennyson Avenue to the northeast, Alumni Hall and the Pittsburgh Athletic Association (on Fifth Avenue) to the southeast.

What’s there now? A parking lot, the Wyndham Hotel and the three-story UPMC University Center. That’s it. Pitt could construct its stadium by building over the end of Lytton Avenue and tearing down only those two older buildings.

New Pitt Stadium would stand directly against Alumni Hall to the east. The main structure in the way? The historic Pittsburgh Athletic Association building on Fifth Avenue. My idea would be for the University to purchase the building and retrofit it as a hospitality space for donors, boosters and premium ticket holders (plus athletic facilities and locker rooms, naturally).

Here are the main details:

  • Total seating capacity: 41,000 seats
  • Southwest Stands: 13,500
  • Lower Northeast Stand: 14,500
  • Upper Northeast Stand: 10,000
  • Southeast End: 3,000
  • Stadium Site: 6.1 acres
  • Estimated Cost: $120 million

New academic and student life facilities can be built into the northeast and southwest stands, available to students throughout the week. After all, the site is right next to Soldiers & Sailors, Crawford Hall, Langley Hall, Clapp Hall and the Cathedral of Learning. It’s not the center of campus, but it is pretty darn close.

And just as every problem can be an opportunity, here’s one: there is not enough space to have stands behind the north endzone. The opportunity? Open up the field to the Oakland community. Close Bigelow Boulevard to traffic on game days, of course, but then have the FieldTurf field open up for intramural sports and general green space. It could be a unique idea in modern college stadiums.

You can read more in Part III, including traffic and parking logistics. But for now, imagine this view from the western edge of new Pitt Stadium, which I took a picture of this afternoon.

New Pitt Stadium view

Now tell me: does this not scream University of Pittsburgh?

51 thoughts on “New Pitt Stadium site concept… and a heck of a view (Part II)

  1. James – thanks for your thoughts. I have a feeling you don’t know much about the Pittsburgh Athletic Association (PAA), its membership or its history. To put things in a nutshell the membership there is filled with old-line PGH money, historical PIttsburgh legacies and new Pittsburgers who are the ‘movers and shakers’ of the City’s business and cultural entities.

    Along with that is a history of the club which goes back over 106 years and has been a staple of Pittsburgh and Oakland all of that time. It is much more than just a venue for events but a real complement to what the Duquesne Club has Downtown – albeit with a more open membership.

    It is, in essence, almost as important to Oakland and the City as the Cathedral and the museums are and there is no way in Hell the membership would ever accept a buyout to have that building razed, nor should it.

    Ever since the University Club closed its doors the PAA has been the one place to really show off Oakland and to wine & dine VIPs who come to Oakland on University business visits. That alone is valuable.

    I get your idea and appreciate the effort you put into it – but you would have a better chance of trying to convince Pittsburghers and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to give up open space in the city’s Schenley park to build a stadium… and that will never happen either.

    Forget about the huge outcry that would come from the Schenley Farms-Oakland Civic District supporters that won’t let a new stadium infringe on National Historic Register properties.

    It is important to understand that Oakland isn’t ‘owned’ by PItt by any means, quite the opposite in fact. It is a vital part of the city and is ‘owned’ by the citizens of Pittsburgh and who 99% of don’t care about a on-campus stadium one bit.

    • Reed,

      I appreciate your feedback about the PAA, which I will openly say I do not know much about other than cursory research.

      Let me be clear about one thing — I would have no designs on razing the the Pittsburgh Athletic Association building, nor Alumni Hall. I recognize the importance of historic buildings, and I want any new Pitt Stadium to integrate INTO the Oakland community instead of overpowering it.

      Notice in my piece that my recommendation would be to “retrofit” the historic PAA building (as I wrote in the post), not to demolish it. In fact, I think integrating the PAA building with a new Pitt Stadium (even if the university does not purchase it outright) could give new life to the PAA for the next 40-50 years.

      Most importantly, I recognize that an on-campus football stadium is something of a “luxury item” for the University of Pittsburgh, not a necessity for the football program. With that in mind, I would want any new stadium to (1) respect Oakland’s history, (2) improve the university and community as a whole, (3) add green space to the area and not reduce it by building in Schenley Park.

      Thank you for your comment, and if by some miracle this plan of mine goes beyond a couple blog posts, I will certainly contact you with any questions about the historic PAA building.

      • Reed, I’m afraid you are not to familiar with the current situation at the PAA. The club is dying, the facilities are outdated, the entire place is a dump, and the club doesn’t have the money to renovate, save a last ditch donation effort by members (which already took place not too long ago and I’m sure people realize you can’t put a band-aid on an open heart wound). It has been long talked about that Pitt would eventually buy the club anyway and I think most of the members would rather see that given the club’s heyday was when Pitt Stadium was still on campus (and also when Forbes field was still around).

    • Pitt may not own Oakland but they certainly rent it as largest employer in region. The students and Alumni if they feel the need to acquire land for a stadium then it will be done through the proper channels. Pitt Alumns have money and power like few other Universities and when they decide Pitt needs a stadium it will be done. The arrogance of county commissioners is what makes the issue sticky but they too will fall in line when told to heel. Pitt has had to apologize to local community that has waged war on this great institution for being the economic engine that runs Oakland. The city needs to put pressure on County executives and get this deal done now!

  2. Pingback: Solution for Pitt Football — Two Stadiums | James Santelli

  3. Not sure whether or not you could squeeze a 41k stadium there, but it would be fitting because we used to tailgate in the old Syria Mosque parking lot right there back in the 80’s.

    Close Bigelow from Bayard to Forbes, pregame concerts between Cathedral and Union, food booths lining the walkways of the family friendly Cathedral lawn and allow alcohol sales in Schenley Plaza. I will buy licenses for two sideline seatbacks today.

  4. James – I would love to see an Oakland stadium but alas, I am skeptical that it will ever happen. However, I believe that wherever PITT does build a stadium, as long as they own the land under it, it will be ‘on-campus’ – just not in the Oakland campus.

    For instance, I always thought Homestead would have been a good place. But the reality is that PGH isn’t the small town that existed back when PITT Stadium was built and land was plentiful. It is now consistently rated as a Top 5 city and every inch of space seems to be valuable.

    How about here: – raze Frazier Playground and buyout the surrounding block or two – you have access by the parkway and get there via Blvd of the Allies.

    Anyway – your proposal is great and maybe someday it will happen…

    • I’m happy people are engaged in this conversation. Stick to it James, your idea is absolutely right on target for Pitt to EVER become relevant in football again.
      Many hurdles will exist, but stick to the objective,,,, ON CAMPUS in OAKLAND is the only solution. Why in God’s name would we waste the money to build a stadium somewhere else in Pittsburgh (Homestead???) would solve nothing and would be just the same as busing student to Heinz Field.

    • There are old buildings and parking lots by CVS and behind law school that could provide a great place for a stadium. Towers are old and book store seven 11 could move, reroute roads lots of options. Pitt has the money it’s time for a leader to emerge and give the University a vision for the future.

      • There’s no way the university is tearing down housing for 3200 students at this time since they are working with Oakland to get as many students as possible in on campus housing instead of renting/trashing houses in Oakland. I’m also not sure why you think the have the money to build a new stadium when the athletic department can’t cover their own expenses and tuition has gone up $5000 above what would have been explained by inflation over the past 17 years. They have a large endowment, but that doesn’t equate to money for a stadium.

  5. Around a year ago, Dejan Kovacevic wrote the following article on the likelihood or desire for Pitt to procure a new stadium:

    What content isn’t party-line is simply verifiably false. Pitt’s experience in Heinz Stadium is exactly as you describe, James. No perusal or examination of the facts really allows for a contrary conclusion.

    As you so often do, James, you’ve hit the nail on the head and your proposed solution is certainly the most reasonable, most achievable, and most well considered I’ve seen. Well played!

  6. Dan – may I ask a simple question?

    Where would you put a stadium in Oakland and how would you actually get permissions from all the entities involved? Forget about the theoretical ideas that are developed just by looking at Google Maps and deciding “it would be fine to put one here”. But try to really understand the dynamics that go into land allocation in the Oakland neighborhoods.

    There are so many different ‘interested parties’ involved that I’ll say there isn’t a shot in hell that a stadium that benefits PITT alone will ever be built there. Contrary to PITT alumni ‘s beliefs Oakland isn’t “owned’ by the University or by UMPC. It is a neighborhood surrounded by people who don’t care about PITT football and will most probably fight tooth and nail to ensure one never gets built.

    This isn’t Lawrenceville or the Southside or any other part of Pittsburgh we are talking about , it is Oakland which is bordered by CMU, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill and populated by people who would think that a new PITT stadium, with all the attendant problems, would detract from what they have now. nhe fact that they are the major taxpayers to the city coffers means something also.

    I truly believe that anyone who thinks PITT holds sway in any decisions in the future that would address a new PITT stadium in Oakland is mistaken. Pittsburghers don’t care one bit where PITT football plays their games but they sure as hell don’t want any stadium to be built back in Oakland where all it would be was a vanity venue for a miniscule part of Pittsburgh as a whole.

    • Let me tack on just for a moment — I respect your feedback, Reed, and you bring a great amount of knowledge about Oakland its importance. However, I take umbrage with the idea that I “just looked at Google Maps and decided,” if that was your implication.

      I am a lifelong Pittsburgher. I am a lifelong Pitt fan (and Pitt basketball attendee). I have many friends who attended Pitt and who have lived in Oakland/Squirrel Hill/Shadyside (both as students as otherwise). I drive for Lyft, which gives me an idea of where the young people in Pittsburgh are living, where they are going, what they do.

      If I didn’t provide enough explanation as to why I chose the location I did, it’s because (as a writer) I didn’t want to bog down my blog post with too much inside-baseball thought on the subject. But rest assured, I have looked at many other ideas for Pitt Stadium locations, size, impact on the community, etc. This was not a spur-of-the-moment pick ’em of a spot.

      Here’s the important part: if this idea were to ever get beyond the blog post (NO I’M NOT PREPARED!), I want you to know that I want what is best for Pittsburgher — not simply what is best for Pitt football, the university, its students, etc. I love Pittsburgh and want to see it be better for Pittsburghers. If we disagree about certain details, that’s marvelous! I am always in favor of smart people who disagree with me. But I don’t appreciate any implication that I wrote about this all willy-nilly (lacking a better term). It’s not the truth.

      • James – I chose my words poorly – you obviously did a lot of homework before posting your thoughts on a new PITT stadium. I probably am suffering from a hangover from Rob Rossi’s ridiculous column the other day (talk about poor timing for you) where he blithely states ‘Of course the solution is obvious! Pitt needs a new stadium in Oakland’. He surely spent only the amount of time it took to type that column in thinking about what he was going to say.

        He also recognized just how silly that article was when the Post-Gazette published a video interview with him a day or two afterward where he backtracks and say “Not Oakland, but somewhere in the city’. Which, as much as I dislike his ‘reporting’ I have to agree with as the only alternative to sharing a public stadium with the Steelers even after Heinz is superseded.

        I grew up in the Shadyside/Oakland area, both of my parents taught at PITT, my Dad as a tenured professor for decades and my Mother as the Ass’t Dean of Women, as did my grandfathers and most of my aunts and uncles going back to the 1930s. We are about as big a “Pitt Family” as you’ll find and the fondest memories of my childhood was tailgating in the Presby Hospital Pathology Lab (My uncle ran the department) then walking up Cardiac Hill to the old stadium and watching the Panthers play. It was a wonderful time and a wonderful experience – then I was a student during the Dorsett years also.

        So I’m right with you in wanting to be able to recapture that atmosphere. I also have thought long and hard and even had discussions with the upper administration regarding the feasibility of doing this and I’ll say that the support just hasn’t been there in the past and not since the move to Heinz.

        I’m not dismissing this out of hand but am stating my strong opinion that it will never happen in Oakland proper. There absolutely is no real space in Oakland that is necessary for all a stadium has to have – most importantly transportation of 40+K people to and from –
        among the PITT Campus.

        I think that the idea that CMU and PITT would build a joint stadium on the upper CMU campus, while intriguing, probably won’t fly either given the type of neighborhoods ($$$) in the close vicinity and the citizens there who wouldn’t want the attendant problems that would bring.

        The only thing that I could see happening is condemning private homes in lower Oakland or in Panther Hollow and Pittsburghers would scream bloody murder if PITT tried that for a stadium that wouldn’t really benefit the city at all.

        Much better to find land outside of Oakland.Shadyside/Squirrel Hill area and make a new and extended’ campus’ withing the city limits – preferably somewhere where a stadium would bring benefits to the surrounding communities in the form of attached revenue such as parking, bars & restaurants, transportation, etc…

        I truly do appreciate your efforts James – otherwise I wouldn’t have even responded in the first place. I suggest that as a Phase III you look at what I described above and propose a close but removed site for the venue.

        Sorry if my tone the other day sounded flippant, it really wasn’t meant to be that way.


      • Reed, I just wanted to clarify that I didn’t mean that Pitt and CMU should share a football facility. That can be dismissed out of hand. CMU is not a football school. The football stadium, Gesling Stadium, wasn’t even built with football in mind. The stands, found only on the north side of the field, are built into a four deck parking garage. CMU football games consistently draw less than half of the stadium’s 3500 person capacity. This, for a school, that doesn’t even sell tickets to the games. You can just walk into or out of the game at any point. Central Catholic high school uses the field for their more prominent games and they virtually pack the place. Gesling Stadium fills the stands for one event per year and that is the university’s commencement ceremonies.

        Far from suggesting that Pitt and CMU should share a football stadium, I simply meant that as CMU and Pitt cooperate on a great number of projects, CMU would not stand in the way or oppose construction in Oakland of a new Pitt football field. In fact, it’s very likely that CMU’s strategic growth plan would come in handy for James’ suggestion. CMU would like for a hotel to be built on the land currently occupied by the Electric Garage or somewhere between the Craig and Morewood corridor. This could assist in maintaining hotel rooms that would be lost by the demolition of the Wyndham (formerly the Holiday Inn) that sits on James’ proposed site.

        You also mention that it would be a logistical impossibility to pack 40K+ people into Oakland. Why is that? At least that many, and sometimes a great many more, used to attend games at Pitt’s old stadium. In 1960, Forbes Field drew 75,263 fans over two consecutive days to watch games six and seven of the famed World Series and that happened in a “bigger” Pittsburgh (by population) than we have now. It’s happened before. There’s no reason it couldn’t happen again, especially when at least the students can walk to the stadium, unlike the present arrangement.

        The bigger point is, where there is a will, there is a way. My alma mater, Pitt, has proved that they have the capacity for innovative use of space. To say that there it is simply impossible to locate a stadium in Oakland proper is just to ignore a variety of options… some of which are realistic, bordering on obvious.

    • Boy, Reed, I absolutely have to agree with James’ location. Are other solutions possible? Maybe, but in the absence of having seen any other plausible solutions, I’ll toss my hat in with James.

      Basically, here’s the deal: it is unlikely that Heinz Field will be the last home of the Steelers or Panthers. Stadiums last so long before they are replaced. If Pitt doesn’t get a new stadium in the next three years, you can pretty much write it down that either they will have a new stadium in 30 years or the economics of the game will have changed in some unforeseeable, cataclysmic way that results in the elimination of the Pitt football team. I think the former scenario is vastly more likely than the latter, but when the NCAA is given the opportunity to do the wrong thing, they very rarely allow it to pass. If we assume that Pitt will be forced to find a new home at some point, the only question becomes where do we put it. Given that Pitt and the Steelers have now shared a home twice, I wouldn’t look for a third such arrangement as neither party has been ideally served.

      As James eloquently stated earlier, new on-campus stadiums are an increasingly popular solution. So look, let’s wind the clock back a few decades, just for the sake of a thought experiment. It’s the 1990s and Pitt’s national prominence in men’s basketball is growing and in fact, outgrowing the Fitzgerald Field House. But let’s face it: there’s no place to build a first rate basketball facility on campus. The campus is landlocked. It just isn’t possible.

      Well hindsight being what it is, a solution was found.

      When the issue is sufficiently important to the decision-makers, a solution can almost always be found. If the day dawns where new Chancellor Gallagher looks around Heinz Field and determines that the interests of the university are not being served, solutions will be presented and one will be executed. The notion that the mindset of, “It’s not possible, so we’ll just give up now,” is not a Pittsburgh mindset.

      One thing I can speak factually to, as a Pitt alum and a CMU employee, is that CMU and Pitt cooperate on a number of projects and, in fact, even share facilities. CMU will not be an impediment to Pitt’s future plans, growth, or expansion. Oakland was, from its very earliest days, Pittsburgh’s hub for entertainment. The Pirates, the Steelers, and the University of Pittsburgh’s athletics have called Oakland home. If you want to assert that building a football stadium is difficult, you’ll get a lot of agreement. If you flatly state that the notion that Pitt could build a football stadium on campus is completely impossible, you’ll probably be dismissed out of hand. In Pittsburgh and at the University of Pittsburgh, the word “impossible” is a challenge that can’t be ignored.

      • I think trying to fit a football stadium into an area that is smaller than the area where Pitt Stadium stood is probably a recipe for disaster. Not only that, but there is zero chance that UPMC sells University Center or the hotel is put up for sale. You’d have a better shot of trying to tear down all of the properties needed in Panther Hollow (which again, is not happening).

        I think the only real shot of ever having an on-campus stadium in Oakland is if something happened with the VA and it suddenly became available. Not that it has much of a chance at happening either, but it would be one of the few spots where you have enough land owned by one entity that could be purchased.

    • Anyone who resides in Oakland and thinks they do not owe debt of gratitude to the University is delusional. Only pompous trolls would dare suggest that Pitts interests do not benefit community from healthcare, economics and educational issues. The “takers” who oppose Pitt stadium are only out to argue to say they have a voice if these neighbors had legitimate concerns they would engage in the process. Silence is form of consentment so if all they have is no that’s not acceptable and will be largely ignored. Pitt has been careful not to strong arm the community and has a history of being thoughtful neighbors during planning stages for redevelopment. However, these neighbors are about being stagnate and stuck on a analog clock in a digital age. Pitt has the money and the power to make any stadium plan happen and my suggestion is to the opposition employ a strategy that makes this project a win win. Pitt may not want to spend money on a stafium but the will of the Alumni can not or should not be ignored. Pitt Ranks 26th in endowment money the issue appears to be AD’s ego.

      • Who in the world on here ever said that PITT’s “interests do not benefit community from healthcare, economics and educational issues.”

        That’s right, no one.

        You say that silence from the surrounding neighborhoods is consent? Then please point me to where the formal discussions are about an on campus stadium? Feasibility studies done by the university? Developmental teams? How can there be ‘silence’ when there are not any actual discussions to engage in.

        That’s right, there isn’t any.

        Rumors, proposal blogs, message boards and an odd article in the local media or two but as of now that’s it unless PITT is keeping this a big secret.

        What I’ve been stating all along is that there is going to be organizations lined up to engage in the ‘discussion’ process when it ever happens… and seriously, that won’t be for sometime.

        As to the Beaux-Arts buildings being gone in 100 years, if I can infer that’s what the other poster means, I’ll bet a paycheck they are after a new stadium is built, if one is built.

        I agree that Oakland is a gem in the midst of a lovely city and that is how the citizens of Pittsburgh and the cultural and charitable trusts see it also. What makes it that way is the stewardship PITT has shown in preserving the historical buildings they have had a chance to buy and hold. They did that for a reason and it isn’t only the land underneath the buildings.

        PITT has always aspired to be Ivy-League like in its approach to education and campus appearance. That has been that way since after WWII and is still in place. That is the pride PITT has in the Cathedral, Heinz Chapel, and all the lovely old repurposed buildings they have saved. That will stay the tenor of Oakland.

        You say that PITT has the power and the money? Really? How long has PITT been trying to close one block of streets on campus – how’s that working? I don’t think PITT can strong arm the city one bit..

        As far as money goes – you won’t see on penny of endowment money go toward a new football stadium, just like no endowment money went toward the Events Center. It will have to be a public/private venture and that will be a longshot IMO.

        But for me the bottom line might just be an ultimate lack of support across the board for a new stadium. I truly don’t think the city of Pittsburgh will get excited about it as it probably won’t bring in much of tax money to the City and I also don’t think that Pittsburgers and even PITT alumni as a whole really care that much about it either.

        PITT has had poor support for the football team going back to the ’60 when I started going to the games as a child – with few sell outs and even in the mid-70s to early 80s it was like pulling teeth to fill the old place. What would be a good thing about now is to have a serious professional poll crossing all different types of participants to see just how much support this would have.

        Again, it would be nice to see a well designed and well built stadium that fit into the neighborhood without crowding out what nice things are already there but my personal opinion is that it is a real longshot to happen.

        But how’s this – get an actual fund going and I’ll kick in some $$ to help your work along the way.

        “…pompous trolls dare suggest…” Gee – thanks. Didn’t think this site was targeted to select readers. But if everyone has to cheerlead the project then it isn’t very interesting, is it? I don’t think that’s what James is looking for here.

      • I’ll second your last part, Reed. You’re both smart dudes and I don’t respect any name-calling here. I truly appreciate all the support I have received about this idea, but I also appreciate the constructive criticism. So keep it civil and let us be what I know Pittsburghers can be — respectful 🙂

      • Pittsburgh demographics are changing most notably is age of population. Allegheny County had or has 2nd oldest population next to Dade County Fl. back in 1993. That translates to a population shift filled with young people who do not want to commute and like city life. You build for the future and the return on investment is too great to ignore. Pittsburgh has a segment of population that is stagnant and a nostalgic culture that fails to accept change with a spirit of optimism that holds back progress. My hope is as the elderly move to grander pastures an infusion of new blood will revitalize this community with forward thinking. I remember climbing cardiac hill and pride of seeing and entering Pitt stadium. Alumni will support a stadium and their are serious discussions being entertained on the subject. College football is serious money and Pitt knows that means on campus stadium is a must. Pitt Athletic Director has dropped the ball and appears too proud to admit decision to tear down Pitt Stadium was wrong. With new leadership hopefully this Chancellor will see the merit for on campus stadium. H2P!!!

      • You do understand that the endowment isn’t there to build stadiums. A lot of it would be restricted in how it’s used based on the wishes of the donor. On top of that, they can only spend the return on the investment, not the actual donated funds.

        As for a debt of gratitude, I’d say it’s a mixed bag. Yes it brings in hospitals, but unless you are a student or work for the university, how do you benefit? Students don’t help property values. The university brings a lot of traffic a lot of bars and low cost eateries, but realistically it’s impact is something to be managed.

      • Point was that procuring funding for a new stadium is not because Pitt lacks Alumni like T Boone Pickens at OK St. Pittsburgh knows that name as the guy that bought Gulf oil in hostile takeover 1980’s. When Pitt wants an on campus stadium it will get done. Endowments also allow schools to secure loans for projects and upgrades to campus facilities. Fire Steve Pederson now

  7. Pingback: Parking and Traffic for New Pitt Stadium? No Problem (Part III) | James Santelli

  8. Come on Reed, tell us how you really feel about this and stop beating around the bush, I’m not sure anyone fully understands your side

  9. James,

    This is an excellent series. I have enjoyed reading it. I’m a senior at Pitt, and I have been a Pitt fan my whole life. Being a current student, I see both sides of the issue. I think Heinz Field is a great recruiting piece. However, some of the crowds at games these past few years have been embarrassing. I was wondering if you, by chance, considered the site of the Cost Center in your research. I understand that it houses a lot of practice fields and such. However, it would be back on upper campus with a great view of the city and the university, people could remember the “good old days” again when they have to walk up cardiac hill to get there, and they could have some connecting facilities to house these practice fields. It was something my roommates and I have discussed and I was just curious to see if you thought of that location at all. Thanks for your time and, as always, Hail to Pitt!!!

  10. There’s a concept that may not be fully understood here and that’s the notion that campus and Oakland as it currently exists, is immutable and permanent. It isn’t. Think about what Pitt and Oakland will look like in 100 years. You’ll have the Cathedral of Learning, you’ll have Frick Fine Arts, you’ll have the William Pitt student union, and you’ll have a whole bunch of buildings that will have replaced all the current buildings. Most buildings aren’t permanent fixtures. What stood on the property now occupied by Nordenberg Hall? Anyone remember? What stood on the land where Sennott Square stands? What stood on the land that is now parking and a small grass lawn by Dirty O’s and Five Guys?

    All these places are new spaces in Oakland, created within the last few years, but they replace older buildings. I’ve been inside University Center. There’s nothing unique about that building that is likely to get it on the historical landmark rolls. No one is more aware of this than Pitt. Pitt has been an engine for change and renewal in Oakland and where an opportunity has existed to capitally improve a property, Pitt has a rich tradition of doing it.

    • Pitt has a tradition of ruining the Oakland architecture and replacing with modern junk. If you think always tearing down and putting up stuff that looks old in 5 years, woohoo! If you think maybe Europe looks so gorgeous good today because they understand and appreciate classic architecture, then maybe Pitt doesn’t look too savvy. They even made a joke out of the old Schenley hotel, with their ridiculous “improvements”. Of course its not just Pitt, the whole world lost its architectural sense after WWII.

      • While at least some of that criticism (of Pitt’s treatment of older structures) is fair, at least in the case of replacing Forbes Field with an at-the-time-en-vogue brutalist style building (the building now known as Posvar Hall), as an blanket statement, that might be unfair and inaccurate. Pitt is home to the Cathedral of Learning, Frick Fine Arts building, the Music building, Heinz Chapel, the log cabin, Allen Hall and Thaw Hall, and yes, the Schenley Hotel.

        The Schenley was actually Pittsburgh’s second most posh and luxurious hotel. The first was the Monongahela House at the corner of Smithfield and Fort Pitt Boulevard. The first incarnation burned in the great Pittsburgh fire, but the rebuilt Monongahela House was unnecessarily razed in the name of “progress”. Make no mistake, the Schenley Hotel probably wouldn’t still be around in any form if it wasn’t for the University of Pittsburgh.

        So to throw out there the notion that Pitt, as a matter of policy and philosophy, wantonly discards classic architecture, I’m just not sure that there are enough facts to support that assertion.

    • Oooh, just google pictures of Pitt Stadium. It was the most beautiful in the country as far as I know, just perfect.

      • Pitt Stadium’s “bones” were indeed gorgeous. With enough investment, it probably could have been re-engineered to host a modern day Division 1-A football team, including seat back sections, luxury boxes, and other revenue generating amenities.

        This is water under the bridge, though. The stadium is gone and it most certainly won’t be re-built on it’s original site. We have more than enough data to make the case that Heinz Field is a failure for Pitt and the future won’t be any kinder on the North Shore. Attention truly needs to be focused on where and how Pitt football can create a true on-campus home that will meet the revenue needs of the program and be a fan-friendly environment for game day football.

    • OK, water under the bridge, but at some point the people in charge have to WAKE UP, and learn you don’t tear down beautiful, gorgeous things. They don’t get replaced with anything, anywhere near the quality in this era. Its a terrible, sickening and un-restitutable sin! (I’m not passionate about urban architecture. 😉 Still a Pitt football fan, but the mgmt. cough, cough, ahem…

      • And on that point, Joe, you and I are in total and complete agreement. There is no daylight between us there at all. I’m still royally ticked that they tore down the Civic Arena, so I understand being passionate about these things.

      • Yah, and the Syria Mosque: Forbes Field, Syria Mosque, Pitt Stadium, its the terrible trifecta for me. Oh well, you can’t go home again. Cheers my friend, maybe beauty will come back into style some day.

  11. This is all a pipedream, but it is an interesting one. The rush to leave Pitt Stadium was that, a rush out of convenience so they could build the Pete.

    Anyway, what I think also is underused is the Oakland campus is unique, and having the stadium in that location would allow the Cathedral Lawn to be used for tailgating ala Ole Miss and their “Grove” which would really be pretty neat and aesthetics.

    Heinz is just so big and so detached. A move to an offcampus NFL stadium has not benefited any program.

  12. I think the old Pitt Stadium was the most beautiful college stadium in the country. Just do a google image search and remind yourself of the classic beauty and timeless appeal. I wish you great luck with your idea; my 2 cents is build another in the classic tradition, which is what Oakland is all about, and make it one for the ages.

  13. Great conversations and, of course, an interesting and somewhat divisive, topic. Regarding the ‘alumni that will support a new PITT stadium’ I have to say that I can’t see that especially considering that alumni giving to our athletic program has be mired among the bottom half of the D1 schools forever. It is one thing to be extorted into donating money to buy decent club seats at Heinz – which most ridiculously counts as donations to the athletic program – and just opening up the pocketbook for other items.

    The fact is that most graduates of the University do not remain in the Tri-State area and do not attend University sports matches like most other schools its size. I’ll repeat myself in saying that the vast majority of PGH, County and state citizens don’t care about PITT football or an on-campus stadium one bit. But the Citizens of Pittsburgh do care about Oakland in particular.

    One thing I think gets lost in the conversation here is that the PITT campus isn’t like many other Universities where they ‘own’ larger acreage that is held by the University and its trusts. Oakland is ‘owned’ by the city of Pittsburgh and thus holds sway in any real physical changes PITT may want to make. You guys correct me if I’m wrong but hasn’t the University been trying to close streets and redirect traffic for decades in the heart of Oakland?

    I know that back in the ’70s PITT was trying to close that short stretch of Bigelow between the Student Union and the CoL and that hasn’t happened.

    Not too long ago PITT’s campus was named as of the most beautiful in the country, surprising a lot of people, and that was because the University has led the way in purchasing and re-purposing those lovely old buildings and integrating them into the overall
    campus plan. Those actions are defining PITT these days and the City is much better for it.

    Hey, the on-campus stadium could fly sometime I suppose but, IMO at least, it shouldn’t at the cost of established unique architecture and the overall feel of the Oakland community. If they want it to happen it should happen pretty quickly…

  14. rkohberger says: “I suppose but, IMO at least, it shouldn’t at the cost of established unique architecture and the overall feel of the Oakland community.”

    Wasn’t Pitt Stadium “establlshed unique acrhitecture” that contributed to the overall feel of Oakland? Pitt mgmt. doesn’t care about that.

  15. James –

    Interesting read. I was wondering if you gave any thought to a new stadium located just south of the hot metal bridge, or if a smaller stadium would even fit there. It would be a neat atmosphere along the river and close to the south side works. Pitt already has been expanding in the part of Oakland since there is available real estate. The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and The Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering are already located in that area.

    When WVU built their current stadium, they built it in a newer campus area, essentially a second campus. The campus area around the new stadium began to grow because of the stadium. It appears Pitt is already interested in expanding towards that direction.

    We can have a parade down Bates Street to the new stadium. Would probably need a pedestrian bridge over 2nd ave.


    • Luke – this dovetails with the idea I put forth that anywhere that PITT buys land and builds a stadium it is then ‘on-campus’ by definition.

      Joe – I’m not sure how you could say PITT stadium was ‘unique’ in any way. It was a bowled open stadium like hundreds built around the US.

      • Well, tell me one that equaled Pitt’s in beauty, classic lines, and quality of execution. Then we can compare pics from google images. Do google pitt stadium and look at the pics though to remind yourself just how classy it was. Also, I don’t think it was too small (the article says too big which I presume was typo.) Even in ’76 when I went to every home game it was never quite filled.

  16. Another potential location could be the current location of the OC lot and Trees Hall. There would be a natural void here if these building were removed that would seem to fit a stadium. It also looks like a stadium could be build in the OC Lot/Cost Center space if a north/south alignment is desired. I don’t think any of these venues (Trees, Cost, OC Lot) are particularly worth saving in comparison to a new stadium.

  17. While I like the idea, the notion of a max capacity of 41,000 is too small. This would be one of the smallest of the power 5. Bump it between 48-52k, and I am okay with that. With the fanfare of the new stadium, capacity at 50k would be of no issue at all..

  18. Pingback: Solution for Pitt Football — Two Stadiums (Part I) | James Santelli

  19. Build a stadium on campus. If the University cant figure out where and how to build a stadium, then they are a very poor University in solving Engineering and other problems.
    There have been many proposals that will work on campus, the University just is not interested in keeping a competitive college football program. Nor is the University interested in spending money and they don’t seem to have any concern with allowing the students or the alumni the chance to build lasting memories of football afternoons and the visit to the old campus.
    Pitt is lost in Heinz Field. By not having an on campus stadium shows the non-commitment to football as a serious and successful sport by the University.
    This is one of the saddest things that Pitt fans have had to endure. And the people who are negative and are against a stadium on campus are almost mean spirited.
    A campus stadium can and should be built. If you don’t think it can, and you can’t be part of the solution, just go away and take the resistance that you are trying to use on everyone along with you..

  20. I live in Oakland for 25 years. Been thinking about this a lot. Two words: Panther Hollow. students can all walk there with additional highway access to parking and parkway east. Would not upset Oakland residents or businesses by putting it in the heart of Oakland as proposed with other sites.

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