A Win for the Masses

Proverbs 31:4-8 ” Give beer to people who are dying and wine to those who are sad. Let them drink and forget their need and remember their misery no more. “  Obviously we need to get wine sales to the public in Heinz ASAP because with 2016’s schedule there may be some real sad-making days this fall on the Northside.

One of my real problems with Pitt football over the years is how they had treated the common fan when it came to purchasing alcohol at Heinz Field.  Not only were we dragging ass in adopting this policy…:

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Where is Pitt?

…we were also enforcing an extremely prejudicial (or crass ) allowance policy that was already in effect.

Pitt ‘s previous stance was that if you paid the extortion fee of a “donation” (and I use that word in protest) you could then buy the much more expensive Club Seats and watch the game with a fully stocked and enclosed bar in your club’s section.

Club seat prices

Don’t get me wrong here – there is absolutely nothing wrong with donating to the Pitt Athletic funds if you choose to do so.  There is something seriously wrong when favors are withheld because you don’t do it and that is exactly what was happening.

To Pitt’s and Chancellor Gallagher’s credit that has now changed.  I say the Chancellor Gallagher because while the “Beer Sales Now Dammit!!” was  recognized and carried forward by Athletic Director Scott Barnes and the new Fan Experience Committee, the final decision

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What? There a game being played?

rested with Gallagher and the University’s General Council’s Chief Legal Counsel Geovette Washington.

I love that first name – it is like if George Washington drove a Corvette..

There are some caveats attached to the change.  Students will be limited to one beer per purchase visit so they can’t buy five at a time and drink them by themselves.  As per the Trib this morning:

“Students, who wear wristbands to games for identification, will be limited to one beer per purchase. No beer will be sold in seat areas.

Also, Barnes said he will conduct a staff meeting every Monday to discuss the previous home game’s beer sales and any problems that might have erupted.

But Barnes expects no significant problems. He said a study conducted by West Virginia, which has sold beer at its home games since 2011, suggested binge drinking is reduced. West Virginia’s campus police department reported sharp declines in incident reports and arrests on home football Saturdays from 2010-14, the New York Times reported.”

You have to think that the college football administrative world sat up and took notice when beer sales in Morgantown didn’t result in Milan Puskar stadium being torn down by drunken and angry fans.  Although it would have been cool to see what would have happen with 13-9 if they sold booze during the game.  Rich Rod might have been lynched and left hanging from a goalpost.

The fact that arrests and disciplinary issues on gameday actually went down after beer sales were instituted at WVU is pretty amazing over all.  I have degrees in both psychology and sociology and can’t for the life of me figured out how the psychopathic WVU fans changed to somewhat positive (or less negative in their case) behavior as a group when given access to even more alcohol.

Hell – the passage of not one but two laws trying to restrict the fans poor behavior after the games didn’t even work earlier:

Morgantown, West Virginia is synonymous with couch burning. It’s the home of West Virginia University, and when they win an important sports contest, lose an important sports contest, or if the U.S. military kills Osama Bin Laden, people take to the streets to burn couches. Targeting what they called a “typical offender”—”a white male, 18 to 22 years old and usually intoxicated”—four years ago the city made couch burning a felony.

But the threat of one to three years in jail apparently wasn’t enough to deter offenders, so the Morgantown city council is back with a new law. Yesterday they passed a ban on outdoor upholstered furniture, operating under the theory that fewer couches will be burned if they’re not readily accessible on porches and in yards.

(Emphasis mine because that is the most beautiful bit of skewed logic I have seen in politics in sometime and that’s saying a lot.)

Obvious the local furniture retailers lobbied long and hard against that lawmaking.  I wonder if couches are in less fear for their lives now that the second law has been passed.

But back to Pitt where we belong –

Let’s do credit Scott Barnes also along with the University administrators.  We may need to give him the lion’s share of the thanks from us Plebeians.  When he was hired he said he was going to undertake some major changes in the Athletic Dept to make the fan’s gameday experience better and he’s made good on that…he really has hit the ground running since last summer.

I especially like that he’s not only forward looking but is actually delivering on some of his early promises to the students, alumni and fans.  It is one thing to make cosmetic changes and poor marketing decisions like Steve Pederson  – remember this one?

“Second, the Pitt Script logo and school colors (Royal Blue and mustard gold at the time) were ditched in favor of a Navy blue and Vegas Gold combination complete with a Dinosaur-looking Panther Head logo by graphic designer Peter Moore. Pitt football no longer looked like Pitt football, it looked like some odd-stepchild of Notre Dame and Navy with what many called a dinosaur-looking Panther (aka DinoCat) on its helmets. In the process, Pederson insisted Pitt be rechristened “Pittsburgh” because he believed the average Pittsburgher would embrace the team – not just Pitt alumni or long-time fans.”

But it is a whole other thing to really reach out to those Pitt associates mentioned above and work hard to get a solid and detailed handle on what direction Pitt athletics needs to head going into the future.  In other words, Scott Barnes is on a mission to drag Pitt into the 21st century and Gallagher is giving him the funding and permissions to do so.

I wrote a piece a few days ago about the Athletic Department’s aggressive plans as found in the  The Strategic Plan for Athletics 2016-2021.  As interesting as that Strategic Plan is, and badly needed also, I had a bit of a cynic’s edge when writing about it.  Well, people who have read my stuff will know that I do that sometimes.

To have this beer sales announcement so soon after rolling out the Strategic Plan shows to me that Barnes and Co. have taken changing the culture of Pitt athletics very seriously.  I’m impressed more; cynical less.

To dovetail with this announcement, and speaking of the future, I don’t believe we are going to see an on-campus stadium in the future, perhaps ever, in Oakland.  It just isn’t feasible; hasn’t been and won’t be.  It wasn’t two days ago and now it is even more unlikely.

Why you ask?  Because one of the main complaints (misconception actually) about Heinz Field was that Pitt didn’t have enough leverage as tenants of Heinz Field to make decisions like the one we just saw them make.

I had read, and had many long conversations about, the general belief  of if we built an on-campus stadium we could sell beer to the fans as there would be no overseers or landlords to content with. But the fact is that there is even less of a need for one now.  The vast majority of fans want beer in the stadium and regardless of the few who didn’t it was inevitable at some point.

But as it stands now selling beer at Heinz during the Pitt games just bolsters the argument to keep the current arrangement in place and do it again later; to share another stadium or build one outside Oakland when Heinz becomes obsolete.

That problem just flew out the window and ain’t coming back.  An on-campus stadium for Pitt and situated in Oakland is a pipe dream.  Now, if Pitt buys land elsewhere then that land by definition becomes part of the campus.  That I could see happening.

Good moves all around on Pitt’s part.  This announcement yesterday shows trust in the fans to accept the change and behave accordingly; it will turn a supposed $500K profit annually and maybe even most importantly will get more fans away from their tailgate parties and into the stands for the 1st quarter of play.

In the past you just knew a large amount of fans were still tailgating when the game started and were forced to make a booze-sotted decision to either stay and get more of a buzz on… or enter Heinz to watch the game and spend three dry hours until tailgate time again.

That issue has been resolved, the decision made easier and I think selling beer will show benefits in future ticket sales even in Pitt football’s down years… if we ever have one again that is.

We don’t want to see this again do we?  We won’t with Beer Sales!pitt-fans-cryingOn a separate note: If you have been reading these articles and enjoying them, and I do hope you have been, please click on the “Follow” button on the left side of the front page and all new articles will be brought to you attention via email.

And thanks for a great week of the new blog – the response by all has been very gratifying.

Reed

 

 

 

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37 thoughts on “A Win for the Masses

  1. I appreciate the step in the right direction by implementing the sale of beer at Heinz. However, I’ll give Barnes a deserved standing ovation when I see the appropriate ACC “on field” logos and a professional grade Pitt Script logo at midfield that hopefully is larger than the Steeler one used on Sundays.
    When that happens we will truly know that Barnes has been paying attention and putting his persuasive powers to maximum use.

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  2. Beer sales are catering to the fans who say they would rather stay home and watch a game while sipping or guzzling a cold one without fear of a DUI. If Pitt falls in line with other university arguments for sales, they will say that by offering beer thru the game, it will cut down on the binge drinking immediately preceding the entrance to the game in order to keep a buzz on throughout the contest. There is no evidence to suggest that more fannies will be in the seats because of beer sales.

    I like the idea, however, we need to understand that the actual net for beer sales will be about $500k – $700k per year. For the increased liability exposure, it can be problematic if you don’t transfer the risk properly. The vendor who serves, better carry enough insurance and train personnel accordingly or Pitt will face a negligent hire claim and liability suit once something goes wrong, which is just a matter of time. Enjoy the beer, it’s about time!!

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  3. Although it probably won’t dramatically increase attendance it certainly can’t hurt. I do think it will help get people in earlier before kickoff. I’m just as guilty as most as heading in as late as possible for one more adult beverage but now it is not an issue. I also think where it might help the most for attendance is the Thursday night games. Though now that casual Pitt fans no longer have this as an excuse for lack of attendance they will probably create a new one.

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    1. Absolutely. What could it hurt is right. I don’t know the answer to Reed’s question about how the drunkenness and trouble go down, but it’s true. Almost every school has released stats, and they do go down. Maybe because people have beers at the game, don’t feel they have to go slam 12 beers at the tailgate?? I don’t know. Ya, I’ll probably leave the tailgate a little earlier knowing I can get a cold brew and watch the pre-game stuff. I know quite a few of my crew will say, “hey, let’s go in now and grab a beer”. Even if it’s only 15 minutes or a 1/2 hour.

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  4. Longsuffering – wouldn’t that be a nice gesture on Pitt’s part? Hey, I’d buy club seats if I though I could afford them – but honestly the incentive on my part for that just went down a bit because of the new beer sales. I don’t like starting a buzz on then having a three hour hiatus when my car keys have been given to a friend already.

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  5. I have been a Club season ticket holder for about five years now. I love them and the beer and liquor availability, while a nice option, is the last thing I would put on the list of reasons to buy Club seats. Things like great seats, access to food, access to real bathrooms, being able to warm up at the half of cold weather games, and regularly seeing Walt Harris passing through all outweigh the beer sales.

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    1. I like the “un”real bathrooms for us regular type fans. I find no problems doing my business and washing my hands multiple times during the games and I look forward to a few additional trips now that beer has entered that equation.

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    1. Always a few, I already know the price. I already know what the beers will be. Probably two domestics, Coors Light, Bud Light, maybe a Yeungling, and an import. No sweat from me. Yes, expensive. I am not rich by any means, working guy. I’ve been to enough sporting events and concerts though, I get it. If I want a cold beer I gotta pay. Can’t stand the bitchers in life in general. So simple but so true, don’t buy it!!! To your point, ya, they’re will be a couple crybabies. They’re everywhere it seems these days. Not from me my friend. I think most on here get it.

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  6. We already know that the beer prices will be too high. I know I’m getting old, but if I get 2 or 3 drinks before the game at a tailgate, I’m good until the post tailgate or bar experience. In other words, this new arrangement means nothing to me.

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  7. Hey Reed, looking forward to diving into some good discussions about PITT football with you guys. As far as beer sales I suppose it’s a good thing but more importantly it’s a continuing good step in the right direction. Feels great to have an AD at PITT that’s willing to listen to the paying customers and fans.

    Bought a couple of club season tickets for the first time in a couple of years. Health issues and steve kept me away. I’m back now and hope to see all the guys down at the game.

    Good luck with the new site. Impressive…….ike

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  8. Aside from the beer topic, Pitt did receive another commitment from a Fla. linebacker Albert Tucker. It appears that Pitt wants to move him from the DB position he’s playing in HS to LB. Speed, speed and more speed at the LB position seams to be in the Conlin/Narduzzi game plan going forward.

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  9. I can see a little indifference on Tucker and some other recruits on other media that I really don’t get. There is so much we don’t know about these young men that could have set the wheels turning for HCPN and coaches. Perhaps there could be a relative or two that have been really good athletes and played on a high level of a sport? Maybe the parents and or family have some really good size and may have bloomed later on in life? We just don’t know right now. I’m all for trusting Narduzzi right now. I think PITT is in some very good hands. I like this pick-up, and welcome Albert!

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  10. Citing the WVU experience is a little like describing what it is like to poke your sister.
    If Barnes wants to claim that the inbred, couch-burning, coin-throwing Neanderthals can tolerate beer sales, so be it.
    But to equate us with them is almost as bad as comparing us to the 409 shower crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “I’m impressed more; cynical less” … THAT, I can get on board with. Nice read, Reed. Congrats on the new blog – job well done.

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  12. wvu no longer allowing re-entry had more to do with the decline in bad behavior than beer sales. The hoopies would get plowed, go to the game, go back out at halftime, slam more moonshine, & go back in. That was a recipe for retardation.

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  13. Reed, don’t apologize for being cynical. I love that you’re one of the few people online who aren’t going party line. Dokish has his panties in a bunch because Tim Benz has written a far more cynical appraisal of Barnes’ “Mission Statement” than you. I’ve read Barnes work, and I agree with Benz BTW. Dokish was initially down on the Stallings hire, but now talks Stallings up every chance he gets even though Stallings has yet to do anything that supports Dokish’s assertions. So now he is also on board with Barnes. I am guessing Dokish and others like him realize that their livelihoods will be far more stable if they fall in line and get back to boosting rather than honest appraisals.

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  14. Another 3 star recruit, not heavily recruited by the big boys. Have to trust that Narduzzi and Conklin are smelling out future talent. They definitely like speed, seems like all the linebackers they recruit are rather light, but fast. Another D-Back they want to play linebacker, seems like a theme. Hopefully they finish with some 4 stars, and these 3 star guys turn out strong.

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  15. I agree totally with Reed that if you start to get a buzz on stopping for 3 hours is a total buzz kill(literally).

    I go to games with my dad and brother and a lot of times we hook up with my cousin and his crew before the game. We get a little buzz going, stop for 3 hours, and then either celebrate or drown our sorrows with a post game cocktail. It will be nice to sip on a couple cold ones during the game. I’m with wbb in the fact the prices will be outrageous and probably won’t have more than 2 or 3. But just having those few cold ones will keep the buzz and energy going.

    There have definitely been games that we are double fisting and having booze rolling down our chins trying to get that last one in before we head in.

    There have also been times when we are just getting in our seats right at kickoff if not a few minutes later because of that. Part of the beauty of college football is the sights, sound, and pageantry of the pre game festivities such as the band, cheerleaders, and watching and cheering the team out of the tunnel, etc.

    Of course another option is just not drinking all together. Ah, who am I kidding…

    Reed, enjoying The Pitt POV very much! Thank you for another venue for us Pitt fans to get our fix and talk and vent about Pitt football.

    Sept 3rd and $8.50 beers will be here before we know it…

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  16. I have never been a fan of 21 as the drinking age. Binge drinking did not come into vogue until the age was raised. Since then, binge drinking has flourished, especially in environments where it was more or less tolerated with a few winks.
    So students devoured alcohol because chances were they could get away with it.
    I am glad they are selling. Ohio State is doing it this year also….but there is a slight difference. At OSU, alcohol is banned from university owned lots. Lane Avenue is roped off from the sidewalks in and it’s an open bar. OSU saw $$$ going elsewhere and changed the equation.
    Pitt made a wise move. It’s beer. Not meth.

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  17. Could care less about the beer sales but if it brings in more money, which it will, then great.

    Pitt was hardly dragging ass on alcohol sales, the large majority of colleges still don’t sell it. Pitt is actually ahead of the curve on this one.

    Like the recent recruit, he obviously likes to hit and is fast enough for LB. More importantly, he is from a Florida power house high school. Pitt is making progress in the sunshine state.

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  18. Timmeh – trying to get as close to a cougar coloring as possible for background – everyone else does Pitt’s colors so I thought I’d go on a different path. This site is undergoing tweaking and will for some time until I can get it the best I can for readers and commenters. I like the fact that this background is soft on the eyes though and the text is contrasted nicely.

    Feel free to suggest any improvements you wish guys – again, I want this site to serve Pitt fans, not myself.

    It will be a lot of fun to watch Narduzzi’s first two classes start to get playing time this year and next. Then we’ll really know how good his recruiting is. So far it looks pretty darn solid. With a nucleus of Chryst’s better recruits and his own coming to college ball maturity we should be in good shape this year and next.

    Didn’t mention in the article that there won’t be beer sales in the Press Box. Damn. This is why even though I can go to the games for free on a media pass I keep my season tickets also – so that I can yell and scream and cheer, which is verboten among the professional pundits.

    To all my old message board friends – thanks so much for coming over here also. The guys who have been commenting on here so far are my Pitt Blather buddies who know Pitt football inside and out. The site is going gangbusters and as you can see we all don’t agree on everything.

    Sooner or later I’ll put out an article that everyone who reads it will disagree and I’ll get called names…but we also all respect each other and believe in civility along with dissent, a rather rare thing to see on blogs these days.

    Keep comin’ back – we’ll leave the light on for ya!

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  19. Reed: Back to my rock solid foundation in cynicism. First you do realize that The Plan was intentionally rolled out before and near the announcement so people would say ‘Wow he really is moving forward.’ His mission was accomplished – Reed come back to the cynical side. It is forward moving and he is making changes but the announcements were intended to manipulate his image.
    Second, I fail to see how the Rooneys owning Heinz Field would be lead to preventing alcohol sales – they sell for Steeler games because it makes them a profit, I would not be shocked if they get a cut on Pitt’s alcohol sales. I would love to see a member of the media inquire of this but the local media wont.
    I don’t believe there will be an OCS in my lifetime – Oakland is too land locked – though land could be had in the uptown area or down in Hazelwood. Again not in my lifetime.
    Ditto on the compliments to your site and you have been attentive to problems people have. Two thumbs up.

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  20. russbro – I’m not changing horses in the middle of the cynicism stream and I’m not sold 100% on everything this new administration does. But for a one year track record Barnes has so far delivered on promises he made when hired. Now – the proof of quality of those promises and plans is how well those things he promised and delivered on turn out.

    That remains to be seen… and “I have my eyes on Pitt Football”. I should get that tattooed on my neck.

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  21. Did anybody get any verification on getting any extra Pitt/PSU tickets that were requested way back when you bought season tickets? I was told they would know by June!!!

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