Here is a nice submission by Notrocketscience:

It has become quite apparent that there is a large amount of apathy by Pitt alumni toward the support of the football program and to a lesser degree the basketball program.  Not all alumni feel this way but too many do.  The alumni donation numbers are not good either in percent of alumni who donate or in monetary donation totals, ticket sales are not good and attendance is not good (with already purchased tickets).  

So I ask, why?

In my opinion, it isn’t only ONE thing.  It isn’t the bad traffic, limited  parking, Pat Narduzzi shutting out the media from practice or the color of the uniforms.  It is Pitt’s college experience as a whole.  It is the campus location, the campus atmosphere, the immediate Oakland area and the campus topography.  I believe the alumni disconnect is driven by the lack of true college atmosphere at the city location and the university’s failure to improve that atmosphere over many years.

A huge part of school pride is sports related.  For basketball at Pitt, it is an above average experience.  The Pete is a great facility and the Oakland Zoo is great.  I attended the WVU game this past weekend.  Kudos to the students.  Screw the season ticket holders, including the private box holders, for selling their tickets to WV fans.  I find that disgusting.  What those season ticket holders missed with their crap attitude was a fantastic game. But I digress…

How about the football experience?  About 27,000 students go to the main campus.  That is full time graduate and undergraduate students.  About 1/3 are from out of state.  Pitt has an allotment of 10,000 tickets for students.  I have no idea if they sell all of those.  I assume they don’t, that is why it isn’t 20,000.  We also all know the student section is not full for most games.  If 10K showed up, that would be about 37% of the student body, so it is really closer to 25% that show up.

Everyone likes to compare Pitt to PSU even though I think that is ridiculous.  They have about 46K students at the main campus and allot 21K student tickets (I think it is even higher).  So 47% of their student body attends games and their student section is 100% full.

The poor student turn out at Pitt is because of the location of the stadium.  You want school pride?  Then have students experience university sports on their own campus in what they consider their university’s stadium.  Not a rented stadium.  That is a fact.  More student tickets would be sold and the percent attending would sky rocket in an on campus stadium.  I guarantee, when those students graduated they would give back more.  Current alumni would attend more games and give more.  Pitt needs to focus on the core of its fan base.

Let’s get back to the campus experience.  Sad to say, I don’t think it is a great one for students.  Don’t take that the wrong way; I loved my time at Pitt.  Sure, we all remember nights at the bars and the “O”, but if you have been to other colleges there is something about having a campus students can hang out in and the general public can enjoy.

For the most part, the biggest changes in Oakland in at least the last 30 years, has been new hospitals, new low income housing and Pitt stadium going away.  Of course the university has made campus improvements, but there has been no effort to expand the campus and make it a destination for people other than a student going to class.

 Obviously, the city environment gives Pitt its uniqueness.  However, Oakland needs to feel like a campus, like a college section of Pittsburgh.  Instead Pitt feels like just another part of the city.  Pitt’s campus is listed as 132 acres.  CMU’s is listed as bigger.  Pitt doesn’t compare to PSU or any ACC school.  Pitt compares very very closely to Temple (115 acres strong).  Yes Temple.  I am not talking about being like a Big10 campus.  

Most of Pitt’s campus is on a hill side.  No one is driving into Oakland on a nice day and saying, “Let’s take a stroll up the hill”.  The campus needs to be expanded and Oakland cleaned up.  Pitt needs to work with the city to do this, create some more green space, close a small section of a few streets for pedestrian only use and create shopping areas on the Shadyside model.  No one wants to sit on the sidewalk of Forbes or Fifth and enjoy a beer or glass of wine in the summer while inhaling bus fumes.  

Where is the 15, 20, 25 year planning?  It sure is there for the hospitals.  Can some of that UPMC leadership work its way over to the University?

In summary, I don’t think the alumni disconnect has a short term fix.  You want me totally engaged and connected to my university?  Show me the plan that makes it possible for a student to do this.  The plan for an on-campus stadium; the plan to improve Oakland; the plan to bring my University strongly forward into the future.  

Show me that there is a real and genuine commitment to a full campus experience for the students.  Show me life for future students will be better than what I experienced.

Do this and reach out to students and alumni during the planning and doing stages and you will find that alumni donations will rise along with a real sense of ownership.

 

75 thoughts on “The Pitt Alumni Disconnect

  1. It is clear that the Pitt administration has not put much effort into improving the campus experience. They will buy a new building at the drop of a hat, but spend money on campus expansion and clean the neighborhoods up, no way! Notrocketscience has some great ideas for expanding the campus, adding in some shops and doing some things to improve the campus atmosphere, but this doesn’t seem to be a priority. An OCS could be dropped into the lower campus with Forbes access if they would just spend one tenth of the money they spend on other office and medical buildings. But here is no commitment or interest in doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Notrocket, well stated and very logical. Your idea of a 2-3 block Shadyside model is excellent and not that hard to make happen! Pitt – wake up and smell the coffee brewing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have not visited the campus since Pitt played its last football game at Pitt stadium. I am probably not alone. If Pitt wants to stay a land locked campus with no football facility until the Steelers move, so be it. CMU students enjoy a campus experience that Pitt students do not have. Think about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have written this before…

    I called the Pittsburgh zoning board a couple of years ago and had a detailed and long conversation about an on-campus stadium in Oakland. It seemed to be a common topic back then as now and the guy I spoke with basically said that the city would never approve zoning land in Oakland proper for a stadium.

    In essence he referenced two separate historic districts in Oakland… The OAKLAND CIVIC CENTER HISTORIC DISTRICT (one block from the Peterson Center) and the OAKLAND SQUARE HISTORIC DISTRICT (Panther Hollow -designated 2005).

    Those two areas and the area immediately surrounding them are inviolable for large construction. As a matter of fact the man told me he had been with the zoning board for over 25 years and that the only way Pitt was going to get any new BB arena was if Pitt stadium was torn down.

    Pitt made that trade off knowing full well they wouldn’t be able to build a stadium on campus again. It won’t pass zoning especially now that the Oakland Square historic districts got it’s designations after Pitt stadium was demolished.

    There is a lot of pull and big money in and surrounding Oakland that won’t allow another stadium and all the attendant problems.

    All this is why Nordenberg, Gallagher , Barnes and now Lyke dodge the issue every time it comes up…they don’t want to flat out say it will never happen, but really – it won’t.

    We may see a Pitt stadium outside of Oakland but not smack inside Oakland’s boundaries.

    Like

  5. Yes Reed, a new stadium will have to be built outside the Oakland neighborhood. But I’m not holding my breath on that either. PITT can’t get the counsel to allow Bigelow blvd to be turned into a small green space. However and I say again. There are some really big ideas in serious discussions concerning south Oakland. ( Bates street and and maybe a new T station) keep your fingers crossed.

    Like

  6. Oh and NRS, really good article much appreciated.. and I agree with all the disconnect. The talk is getting louder and soon will be yells and then will to turn into screams. PITT loyalist’s want to be heard Heather.. our money will talk or our money will walk.. We need to hear a plan of some sort… ike

    H2P!

    Like

  7. We should have picked up that Hazelwood site a few years ago.

    I think we just need to understand that Pitt is only going to commit monies earned thru ACC contracts to the football program.

    The”whale” donors give to the educational and research arms of the school… football and athletic Dept are pretty much after thoughts.

    And yes, great article Notrocket and thanks…let others know how easy it was!

    Like

  8. Great article – couldn’t agree more. Having a concentrated, definable campus (including on/near campus sports venues) with an established and sole identity to the university is absolutely crucial. It makes me sick to go to Pitt games at Heinz, park in the main stadium garage that has a sports apparel store on the ground level, and walk by and see PSU and WVU gear on clear display. What do you think would happen if they sold other NFL team (non-Steeler) gear in that store? Do you think any of the businesses on North Shore care that Pitt plays there? Pitt has no connection to the rest of the city outside of Oakland. Period.

    Like

  9. Every time I go back to Pittsburgh I get back on campus. I grab an Italian from Uncle Sam’s and a beer at Peters. I, personally, loved Pitt’s urban campus. As for Penn State, my wife’s parents live there and I’m there more than in Pittsburgh. Most PSU alumni that go back don’t make it further than the stadium either. Few actually walk the campus. Most visit the town of State College to buy a cheap Penn State souvenir and grab a beer at their favorite watering hole. No different than Pitt except the pure volume of Penn State souvenir store.

    You nailed part of the reason schools like Penn State have so many fans show up … sheer volume of students and alumni. Pitt is a city school with a large portion of those fans being Steelers fans … Pens fans … and Bucks fans. There is only so much sports entertainment dollars to go around. Pitt would have a lot of divorced men otherwise. If you can accept that you didn’t go to a large state school, attendence is a lot easier to swallow. It’s the school we chose. I was on campus 93’-98’. Pitt Stadium was absolutely horrible. A lot of people let nostalgia get in the way of reality. Part of the experience of being a Pitt student is the city. The city is part of the charm … a large part of it. The product on the field or court has an effect and people will show up if there is entertainment value.

    Like

    1. I disagree about PSU fans hitting campus. I have been thete for game and non game weekends. My daughter and brother went there. The campus is packed game days, especially when it is warm out. The town is wall to wall people.

      notrocketscience

      Liked by 1 person

  10. There is no way Pitt can compete with Penn State when it comes to athletic budgets and funds (and of course attendance,) However, how does Pitt compare to other ACC schools when it comes to alumni gifts targeted for athletics? I’m pretty sure it’s at or near the bottom .. just like coaches’ salaries.

    It is apparent that athletics is not a priority at Pitt …. which is not necessarily a sin.

    A lack of an OCS in my opinion is not as big as issue as many here seems to think. And the reason is that even if 20,000 students do show (which is not very likely), that’ is still is less than 1/3 of capacity. I think the issue deals a lot more with Pitt’s alumni … much, much more in fact. I wish I had an answer but I really believe this is the main source of the problem..

    Like

    1. Going further … I have met a lot of Pitt alums while working in Pgh for two decades, and the majority of them rarely attend games, or even think about it. They seem much more interested in pro sports. … if they have any interest at all.

      Like

      1. Exactly my point. Why the disconnect? PSU fans drive 3 hours from Pittsburgh. Pitt fans aren’t driving 20 minutes. I think it goes back to the Pitt experience or lack there of. Just mt opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Excellent article by notrocket. I agree. The key, as stated, is a long term Plan for acquiring land and improving traffic…

    We need a blue-and-gold belt around the campus. :-).

    Go Pitt.

    Like

  12. I attended Pitt from 1974-1979 as a teaching fellow. I came to Pitt from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. BGSU is a nice campus in a little college town surrounded by miles and miles of farmland. By the time I finished by B.A. and M.A. degrees there I yearned for something larger. Pitt gave me that feeling. I lived in Squirrel Hill and took the bus to Pitt. Pitt was part of the city and the city was part of Pitt. Also Pittsburgh sports, including Pitt football, gave me a feeling of civic pride. City of Champions. So I didn’t come to Pitt to be part of a campus, I came to Pitt to be part of a city. I don’t miss Pitt, I miss Pittsburgh and Pitt is a part of the whole. – Hobie

    Like

  13. Thanks for posting the article Reed. It was easy.

    I still think a stadium could be done. Traffic is 6 times per year for a game. That is nothing.

    My old email is locked up, thus the NRS.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great thread. 45,000 seat stadium would be fun. My son goes to Maryland. He can walk to games in five minutes. He made two games. Winning has a lot to do with it. As does rivalries. As we get used to ACC schools the rivalry will come. That leaves winning. OCS is the cherry on top. Man would it be nice if Pitt thought big. Hope springs eternal. Think how great it would be if Pitt opened up just a bit.

    I hate to say it, with CTE, will there still be football in the ten years it takes to build an OCS? By then, maybe the soccer team will take it over. Seems like soccer may rise as football decline as. Hope i am wrong. But the violence to the brain is real.

    Like

  15. In 1968 when I started at Pitt, it was mainly a commuter school. A much smaller percentage of students resided on campus. I believe enrollment was under 10,000 students. It was almost like an extension of HighSchool in a few large buildings. What was unique was the Cathedral, Heinz Chapel and Stephen Foster theatre. That architecture defined the look of the University. I live 300 miles away and my HS companions that toured campuses with me chose PSU. I was the only person that I new of from my town who attended Pitt. Since that time the Campus has evolved into a magnificent urban campus and university. The University leadership went the only way it could with limited and hilly topography and that was to go vertical. I am a season ticket holder and try to make at least four games a year, but rarely make it back to the campus. That connectivity needs to take place with or without sports. Sports are an opportunity to bring alumni home to the campus- the University. I am a graduate of CAS ’72 and GSPIA ’75 and took a few urban planning courses there. I have successfully practiced community development for over 40 years. The Pitt campus would be a challenge to fit new athletic and educational facilities but wouldn’t it be fun to try. Pitt needs to take a lead in innovation and design with transportation and land use. Yes a new OCS is doable with parking and people movers. Come on Pitt leadership show us what you have!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Terrific Article and Spot on!!

    Reed – Historical? So the slums of Oakland and Slumlords are historical preservation. The whole town needs torn down and started over. Pitt could buy it all. If I’m UPMC I’d be wanting to move to cheaper land and build functional hospitals with great ease getting in and out. Pitt should move large parts of the campus along the river and work up towards Homestead. All tbat river space is open.

    Like

    1. Have you been to those two historical districts? They are lovely.

      There is a reason PGH is continually and the top 5 places to live in the US and that is because of the urban planning that has been done over the years since the steel mills left.

      Pittsburgh and specifically Oakland are lovely areas of urban planning and although there are some blight areas they can be taken care of, but the city is never going to allow a big on-campus Stadium to be dropped right in the middle of what is still the heart of Pittsburgh.

      Like

  17. Notrocketscience- Thank you so much for your spot on article. We can go back and forth in the wide spectrum of Pitt opinions … from U Pitt baseball to Ike, but please we all know that Pitt will never be where it wants to be if it does not have an on campus stadium. period period period.

    I respect Reed (and hope to meet him someday) and appreciate his phone call to the Pittsburgh Zoning Board, but this is 2017 and if you have T Boone Pickens or Phil Knight as an alumni you don’t call the Pittsburgh Zoning Board, you have your attorney and your accountant make a call to J P Morgan Chase.

    Brush me off, but my father’s attorney and one of his best friends who was a dinner guest in our home was George Barco (Former Pitt trustee and Pitt’s Law school is named after him). George’s son-in-law Jim Duratz and George have given over $20 million to Pitt Athletics. But George is dead and I believe Jim, who my 92 year old Dad, sees at Sunday Mass is around 90. What Pitt needs is a T. Boone Pickens alumni and watch magic happen.

    Maybe Pittsburgh will get Amazon. Maybe an Amazoninan uppity up takes a love for the local team and has his attorney and accountant make a call to J P Morgan Chase.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. There is no doubt that the disconnected line has to be rejoined with a longer term plan for common ground between alumni and their school. The old broken record of how PITT didn’t sell out PITT stadium back in the mid 70’s early 80’s with a national championship wedged in there is a flawed argument.

    PITT stadium was a beat up old lady that needed a new dress but that escaped the administration’s foresight and continues to do so. College football has the capability to pay professor’s salaries and chancellors for that matter. How can PITT claim to be a good to upper class academic educational institution when the very BOT’s are dumb as a box of rocks?

    It’s called an investment you stubborn fools. Build it and they will come, watch the movie..

    PITT is suffering from a lost generation of college football fanatics thanks to a previous AD and administration. That’s a very steep hill or even a mountain to climb without an impact ambitious plan to bring back the lost generation and the generation PITT lost from the alienation of idiotic management.

    PITT football has no choice or chance but to spend the money that the old fogies are sitting on and rebuild the brand of winning college football. (hint) it pays for itself ten fold…. Get with it BOT… ike

    H2P!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. “No one wants to sit on the sidewalk of Forbes or Fifth and enjoy a beer or glass of wine in the summer while inhaling bus fumes.” LOL

    As for the stadium plans on the Pete parking lot, it could against zoning based on people parking their cars in surrounding residential areas (like the South Side problem)
    Yes, I know that was what we had at the old stadium, but that was grandfathered in.

    Like

  20. Seriously, when was the last time anyone of you had to spend nights at UPMC Presby? Sorry but I felt like I was in a complete crap hole. Shadyside was a whole lot better. Upitt is right, they need to move the hell out or join hands with PITT.

    Like

  21. Reed, Pitt and UPMC employ more people than any other company in Pittsburgh. The other POVers are right. Money talks, and if Pitt really pressed the issue the Planning Dept. would fold like a cheap suit. Just walk into the Mayor’s office and say you have a $200 million plan for Oakland that would emphasize new tax paying businesses around a new OCS and watch things happen. There is room on the lower campus if some creativity is applied. Below ground level with a roof with escalators and people movers in and out of the field location out into a newly developed business district. It could certainly work if some people or companies with big checks came forward.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. from Wall St Journal article:

        Pennsylvania
        The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a vertically integrated health care provider, is the largest employer in Pennsylvania with over 60,000 employees. UPMC provides health insurance in addition to medical care. In its 2014 fiscal year, UPMC admitted more than 287,000 patients.

        Like

        1. While that is all true, the point that is regularly missed here and other boards is that Pitt and UPMC are two completely different entities. In fact the only thing they have in common is the name University of Pittsburgh. Pitt has zero to do with UPMC operations and cash other than sending medical students to the hospitals. As for the mayor, UPMC has power and influence, Pitt no so much.

          Like

  22. Hobie – spot on. Pitt is synonymous with Pittsburgh for a lot of students which will tie into my last paragraph in this post.

    wbb – exactly. Most Pitt fans living in Pittsburgh are professional sports fans and if they’re football fans the Steelers trump the Panthers.

    The only way to pack the stadium is to win and win consistently while playing a fun schedule.

    There is no magic button. The Pete filled up because Pitt luckily became good at the same time.

    If Pitt built a new stadium the stadium would sell itself for a few years but eventually, if Pitt wasn’t winning, it would have empty seats as well.

    Just win and the rest takes care of itself … I know I said “just” like it’s easy. The irony doesn’t escape me.

    Notrocket – I was implying students don’t go back to visit old academic buildings. They don’t walk the campus except to cut thru to the stadium from the town. The town experience is no different than Oakland. Bars, cheap food and souvenirs. Pitt and Oakland have that … but that’s only one neighborhood. Pitt students also visit Squirrel Hill, The South Side and Shady … ie The city.

    What Pitt doesn’t have is the enrollment.

    Like

  23. From what I read, Pitt has built basketball, baseball, soccer, swimming, track, volleyball, student and other sports facilities. The most important one does not exist.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Barton Simmons is a national writer for CBS Sports and national director of scouts for 247 Sports

    Barton Simmons‏Verified account@bartonsimmons

    Missed this yesterday but I still believe MacVittie is a really talented QB prospect. Only one year as a starter in HS playing behind an upperclassman at major program. Big, athletic, elite arm talent. Just hasn’t had a ton of reps. Good transfer candidate for someone

    Like

    1. He doesn’t have an “elite arm” at all. This guy was reading MacVitte’s recruiting blurbs, not having ever seen MacVitte in a college uniform.

      If he transfers he’ll go down in division… Really, if you can’t see the field behind a has been Max Browne who sucked, a Ben Dinucci who doesn’t have D 1 talent and a true FR 3* recruit , then what other D1 school is even going to know you exist?

      He needs to go somewhere where football is fun for him and where he can get a good education.

      Like

  25. The connection with the university is made at an early age imprinted on young minds. Pitt has always done a very poor job connecting with schools in the region. And often that first connection is via sports.

    And then when on campus you are indoctrinated. Everything about the university surrounds you, permeates you. It becomes part of your identity…your association. Again, Pitt greatly fails in this aspect. Pitt needs to tap into its ‘Force.’

    If you want to learn how small kids and students become followers, take a look at some schools like Penn State and A&M.

    It has less to do with how campus looks and the size of it and more to do with the experience starting as a grade schooler to your experience as a student and graduate and beyond.

    You’re part of a family…something bigger than yourself.

    Much like a fraternity or the POV. I’d rather give money to my frat or the POV than my 2 schools (Pitt and UB). Why? Because I have more of a connection with those two. I’m on here because its ‘fun.’

    Pitt just doesnt care or try hard enough. And its really not that hard to make connections, generate positive and memorable experiences and to care.

    Like

  26. When I think of my Pitt experience it includes the South Side, The Strip, Shady Side, Squirrel Hill, North Oakland, South Oakland, downtown, the Cathedral … and Oakland. That’s not to mention the Steelers, Pens and Pirates.

    Penn State is campus and town and stadium and twice the enrollment … the common bond and shared experience is football.

    See where I’m going with this?

    A Pitt student’s common bond and shared experience is the city. Pitt fans talk about Pittsburgh like Penn State fans talk about the football team.

    There is a small window of fans from 76′ to 83′ that may feel differently but, I’m sorry folks, you’re in rarified air and a minority here.

    How many times have you guys chatted about old concert halls and concerts and different sh*& you did and got in trouble for doing in the city? You reminisce about the city not necessarily Oakland. Pitt’s campus expands beyond Oakland … it’s easy to leave and explore. At Penn State, you’re stuck.

    Pitt is just a different experience. The typical Pitt fan likes Pitt football and loves the Steelers. It’s just the way it is. Winning can change that but only when they’re winning. Hell, even from 76′ to 83′ Pitt had a hard time filling the stadium.

    Win and seats will fill. It doesn’t matter where the stadium is because the city is Pitt’s campus.

    Like

  27. My thoughts are that PITT is still a commuter school and is eclectic as a college atmosphere can be. Yes the city of Pittsburgh helps bring in the finest of minds to the area, just ask CMU. Yet the song remains the same.. school spirit has become a past time rather than a passion at PITT.

    Like

  28. Dittos to many of my pal nonrocket’s article. Very nice job nonrocketman,,, Compared to college towns in P5 schools we are definitely lacking in that campus thing, However how many campuses in America have a museum like the Carnegie museum on it’s campus. One of the best museum’s in not only America but the entire world. How many college campuses can you actually hear one of the best symphonies in America as well. So what we lack in green we make up for in culture.

    Now I don’t agree with the comparison to Temple U at all. I had the misfortune to attend that forlorn place my freshman year. And let me tell you that is (and still is) one dangerous campus. North Philly is 100 times worse, maybe a 1000 times worse than Oakland.

    Pitt is not ever going to be a green pasture campus and that is what along with the vast culture we have that makes it unique.

    And btw our campus is far nicer now than it ever was in the time period I went to Pitt. Other than losing Kings Court and White Tower, Fifth and Forbes is in far better shape than it was in the 1960’s, the 1970’s, the 1980’s and the 1990’s.

    Like

  29. Still recovering from Steelers Sunday and wife of mixed marriage (she a Ravens Fan) has just started speaking to me again!

    NRS…loved your article. I think you got the premise dead on right. Campus connection has been totally lost w the tearing down of Pitt Stadium, deterioration of Oakland etc. Also lost is hundreds of thousands of $$ that would have been spent in Oakland. I am for a NCS….Near Campus Stadium…tied in by EL overhead trains.

    Another great point….where is the 5, 10, 15, 25 year plan by Pitt? They just seem to limp along day by day hoping things will get better. This falls squarely on the BOT and administration.

    If you have a plan… you are rarely the victim of “unintended consequences”.

    I worked a lot in my last two years with UPMC. They rely on huge plans. They will soon own the Harrisbugh area and by next year the Philly area. This is their 5 year plan. Where’s ours??

    Like

      1. Jeff has a Board as well. We need Gallagher and Lyke to be more like Jeff.
        But Jeff started a long time ago with Tom Detre and UPMC took 30 years to get where it is.
        And an environment of consolidation in the Health Industry, supported by government policy, or lack thereof.

        Like

  30. Typing with one eye and a surgical hangover, but the Doc says it went well.

    A very thought provoking article by NRS.

    The more I think about it, the more I find myself in the minority of our little club that thinks Heinz Field is the best possible place to play Pitt Football. Pitt Stadium was built in an era when people traveled by Trolley. The reason an OCS will never be built is that there is no interstate access an insufficient infrastructure to build a stadium in Oakland.

    Reed also points out the political realities as well. There is no public pressure or desire for such a project. In fact the politics are largely why Pitt Stadium is history.

    While I love the passion you are all Don Quixotes.

    Even a Pitt only, nearby stadium on the hill or Hazelwood will never be built in our lifetimes if ever. Face it , that ship has sailed. Unless some billionaire benefactor wants to leave a legacy.

    I do agree that more could have and should be done to improve Pitt’s campus. Building more pedestrian walkways over Fifth and Forbes, closing Bigelow. Building a large plaza over parts of Fifth and Forbes are projects that should have been done long ago. Escalators and people movers should have been built to improve connectivity. These people movers should have connected CMU and Carlow as well to improve the whole educational community.

    As usual I agree with TT’s comments regarding the Pitt experience including the whole of Pittsburgh and the benefits of being in the City. I spent time at Carnegie Library, Museum and Music Hall, enjoyed shows at the Syria Mosque, even had a lovely co-ed treat me to the Ballet, saw Reefer madness and other shows at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, spent evenings at the Buhl Planetarium. Enjoyed many off campus night spots.
    So while we didn’t have the traditional campus experience we had much more. One of my best Pitt memories is the celebration after the 71 World Series. Oakland went nuts. Also getting together with my buddies for Steeler games when they drafted Joe Greene and the build up to greatness. All part of the Pittsburgh experience.

    My pet issue is the need to change the culture to increase school spirit and connection with the University.

    My feeling from day 1 at Pitt was that I was treated as a number or a customer (with poor customer service) rather than a member of the family and that feeling continues to this day. I remember standing in long lines at registration and the battles with the Pitt bureaucracy. I am sure some things have improved with technology…

    I wonder if kids still go home on weekends because it is more fun than being on Campus. Are there still an abundance of commuters?

    While Pitt is a great hub of graduate schools, having gone to one, students in these schools have other allegiances and do not attend Football games or have “Pitt Pride” Nor do employees of UPMC. I do know a lot of Pitt employees that are big fans, but I wonder what percentage attend Pitt events?

    The effort to improve this culture is the one thing that could make the biggest difference after a culture of winning which is paramount. Losers don’t fill stadiums in Pittsburgh or anywhere else.

    Like

  31. The partnership with the Steelers was inspired and financed by UMPC with shared training facilities on the SouthSide. This came at a time when Pitt Athletics was really struggling with inadequate facilities from top to bottom. The stadium deal came next and the Pete. It is easy to second guess all those decisions, but without them, Pitt very well may have gone the way of CMU and sports. People on this site fail to remember the political battles that went on to get Heinz Field and PNC Park. The public actually voted against them.
    There was no way Pitt could find the money to finance the renovation of Pitt Stadium and the replacement of Fitzgerald Field House.

    Like

  32. The other possibility is the Pitt/CMU consortium which attracts companies like Uber and hopefully Amazon. As we have seen, most financial forecasts for the economic growth of Pgh is tied into this area. In an ideal world, a new state-of-the art research area would be constructed which could lead to who knows what …. including state-of-the art public transportation (drone buses?)

    Of course, I’m kidding (I think)

    Like

    1. Drone buses are coming sooner than you think. We already are testing drone Uber in Pittsburgh.

      Amazon would be a game changer, not likely though.

      Like

      1. CMU developed a roving robotic camera that was experimented by the NFL some years back. It provided a 360 degree view but didn’t go over well. But being that instant replays often can’t be judged properly by not having the correct camera angle, one wonders if that technology is in near future

        I’m all for Pitt football being a beta site … state-of-the-art stadium, broadcast and IR technology, and transport of fans to-and-from

        Like

        1. IT is different than typical business. I’m in the industry so I can speak from experience. You look for IT hubs because innovation is greater than savings … TX has OEM hubs (Dell/HP/Etc) not IT hubs.

          Pittsburgh has a much greater shot at Amazon because of the reputation as being an IT hub and innovation centric (CMU/Pitt/Google/Uber …). It’s why Silicon Valley exists … it’s not the cheap rent.

          For example, just look at what Amazon’s subsidiary did. AWS is building an HQ in the Dulles area outside of DC because it’s an IT hub … certainly, not because of the rent.

          Like

        2. Most important, no income taxes. That’s the reason Bezos went to Washington from NYC when he setup Amazon. Florida may be an other location picked for an eastern headquarters. Jacksonville could be ideal. Bezos came from South FL.

          Like

  33. I was at Pitt from ’89-’94. The student section was far from full. Some games there might have been 500 students there (with half that after halftime). Students gave their ticket away for free. Nobody shows up to sit in a stadium. They show up to watch a competitive football team. You pack a stadium by winning against other competitive opponents. I guarantee you if Pitt had three 10-win season and Georgia came to town, Heinz would be packed. Nobody wants to buy a ticket or waste half their weekend to see a team that might lose to Youngstown St.

    Like

    1. I’m sorry Yeti. 1989 was a great season (beat Texas A&M in John Hancock Bowl) and then the rest of your time as a student was football hell thanks to the idiocy of Paul Hackett and the failure of Johnny Part II.

      My five years as a student were very similar. My freshman year was great with Walt leading us to the Fiesta Bowl…then no bowls/winning seasons with Wanny for the next four years. I find it so interesting that many on here pine for the days of Wanny when I vividly remember us getting killed twice by UCONN, once at Heinz. Student support was pretty low.

      My favorite game as a student (I couldn’t find anyone to go with, male/female/family) was a 1 and 5 Pitt team playing Cincy for the River City trophy. There was a horrid rainstorm the entire game and maybe 5k in attendance. We hoisted that trophy with pride!

      Like

  34. You can counter Phil Kinght-type people with the old money donors like the Hillmans and extended Mellon and Walton families who have kept Pitt and PGH afloat in the past. I know that the last thing those donors want is a stadium right in the center of campus.

    What you want is a pipe dream, what the reality is is that the city and Pitt itself want a different model for Pitt and Oakland.

    Look, you can do stuff like Pickens or Knight did in small college towns, but in a city like PGH that honestly doesn’t care one bit about Pitt football it is a whole different world.

    BTW… Pitt fans seem to think that Pitt owns all of the land in Oakland but that isn’t really true. They own their buildings(some are long term leased) but the roads and a most all the infrastructure is city-owned.

    Unlike CMU’s campus right next door which is a true college-owned campus that owns the interior roads, land, has their own power plant, sewage, etc.

    The bald fact is that Pitt, the administration, the alumni, the city and the citizens of Pittsburgh want the Ivy League model for Pitt way, way more then they want a good football program with an OCS. This isn’t a new concept either. This has been in the works for many years.

    Why do you think that all through the 60s, 70s and up until Pitt Stadium was demolished no real money was ever put into it? Because everyone knew that it would be made redundant at one time or another and would be torn down. I remember conversations about the future of Pitt when I was a kid and it was all about how to grow academically, not athletically.

    Pitt has found a comfortable niche between academics and athletics and that ain’t going to change anytime that we’ll see. They have D1 sports for its image and that’s it. All else is academic and civic.

    Like

    1. Paul Mellon never had any love for PITT and the City of Pittsburgh. Under Paul Mellon, the Mellon Institute went from PITT control to CMU. That plus PITT’s financial problems didn’t help our academics. Paul Mellon was never a major donor to PITT, as far as I can tell.

      Even his grandfather, Thomas, didn’t believe in big time philanthropy especially in his name. Mellon Institute was his biggest gift which I believe his son, Andrew, later named after his father.

      Like

  35. and a btw… I care Mark..

    On a different note with all this building a new PITT stadium discussion. Why is this topic still being talked about when the PITT administration has told us all over and over that it just ain’t happening anytime soon? The subject has never completely gone away but there seems to be more fire in the stomachs of many concerning a new stadium.

    Well a couple of the media types have picked up on the lousy look Heinz Field offers up on PITT game days. It’s embarrassing.

    Everyone knows PITT is sitting on a rather nice pile of money.

    Everyone also knows that PITT isn’t going to spend that nice pile of money on sports.

    Everyone know that a well run college football program can be a pretty nice money maker.

    PITT couldn’t even outbid to take over the PAA

    PITT can’t even decide what their football uniforms should look like.

    I took a long look at the PITT BOT’s and there are some good people there and some psu people there, how did this happen?

    Money talks and bullcrap walks.. and keeps walking.

    I believe that if a solid plan to build a new PITT stadium would be brought to the table, a lot of money would be raised and bring back the alumni that feel alienated with their university.

    Yes, and lastly. The cries to bring back the script never stopped and now here you have it.. Keep that fire burning boys and girls…. ike

    H2P!

    Like

    1. Ike, a negative statement by you? Tell me, it ain’t so, Joe ! (shoeless joe,Damn Yankees). I don’t ever see a new stadium in my lifetime. Take a look at USC, UCLA, and Miami.
      Pitt has approximately $3.5 Billion which doesn’t really put us in an elite class.

      Like

  36. In the 1960s Pitt tried to get into the IVY league and was told NO. CMU is smart to keep its athletic facilities to the benefit of its students. Looks like the only option is to build a small all sports facility down by the river if light rail comes along there. Soon the Steelers will dump Heinz and we will be stuck with a High School stadium somewhere. What a disaster for our football team.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. The perception is that Pitt treats students as numbers. Very corporate like approach. Its a cultural thing. Pitt does a very good job alienating students and pissing them off in a multitude of ways. Then they scratch their heads and wonder why alumni dont donate.

    Like

  38. NRS – Excellent Read. Thank you for putting in the time to write this article. I attended Pitt from 1998-December 2002. I graduated in 8 semesters, but as an engineering student doing a co-op it pushed graduation back 2 semesters for me – and allowed me to catch 5 seasons of Pitt football instead of 4. Pitt stadium was there for my first two years and then we had Heinz Field for the last 3 years of my time at Pitt. I feel this makes me a little unique in that I got to experience both venues for an almost equal amount of time.

    Pitt Stadium needed to be torn down. Period. It was crumbling and fans didn’t show up even for big games. The last game at the stadium vs. Notre Dame wasn’t even a sellout. The fraternities were there every week, deer head and all, as walking downhill is easier than walking up. We had maybe 2,000 students at the games. Most were too hung over or busy studying to walk up the hill. A good portion of local students also went home for the weekend to do laundry or hang out with their high school girlfriends.

    I rode the buses to Heinz field, it was 15 minutes there and 15 minutes back. Not sure what the big deal is about them, as long as you are with friends to have fun with. Heck, it took that long to walk from South Oakland to Pitt Stadium. I never had a problem with the buses. Although, I did have a vehicle and used to drive myself and friends and tailgate most of the time in one of the parking lots under the highway.

    I would love to say that I attend games with my discretionary income. However, living near Buffalo(my hometown) with a 5 month old and 4 year girls, I rarely get back to the Burgh. If had been able to get a job in my field after graduation I would’ve stayed in Pittsburgh, but with a recession and my co-op employer in a hiring freeze, it was not to be. If I lived in Pittsburgh, I would be a season ticket holder for at least one major sport if not both. I have more to share but not enough time to do it.

    Finally, I want to thank Reed for the blog – I am an avid reader, infrequent commenter. Maybe if he bans that negative about absolutely EVERYTHING UPittbaseball for his constant vitriol towards the program and other commenters I might comment more.

    Like

  39. When Pitt destroyed its on campus stadium, it removed a vital link to its alums who traveled back to campus to enjoy Oakland, walk up Cardiac Hill, and enjoy Pitt football. The hospitals run Oakland, run Pitt, and help to destroy whatever college atmosphere could exist.

    UPMC should donate the land and funds for a new stadium in the heart of Oakland. Of course, it may have to give up some of its profits and non-taxable income.

    Like

  40. I wish they had kept PITT Stadium. I knew it would be missed. It was part of my memories of being a student.

    However, I would rather have medical facilities equal to Cleveland Clinic or better.

    Like

  41. Though I went to college elsewhere, I’ve been a Pitt fan since the 60’s, and before moving away, lived and worked in Oakland for a bit. It never had the feel of a college campus. It never had any sense of character or seemed anything more than another part of the city. Lots of young folks walking about, but they never were distinct from the rest of the crowd. I’ve been gone since 1980, but when last back there a couple years ago, I didn’t see anything as greatly changed. I love the unique feel of Pittsburgh. I always have, but Pitt has never had that unique feel to it.

    Like

Leave a Comment Please and Keep It Civil...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s