A View From the Press Box

Joe L. suggested I write a piece about sitting in the Heinz Field (yes, Heinz Field!!) press box during a Pitt game so here goes.

Our Very Own ID Card

First off as nice as it is to be invited it really isn’t as much fun as sitting in the stands with POVers. Everyone in the press box is really friendly, especially EJ Borghetti and the rest of his staff. They provide a great pre-game buffet and drinks with an adjoining room where you can sit and eat while watching a big screen with the pre-game shows on it. I don’t usually sit in there as if I’m in PGH I’m with the POV tailgaters until just before kickoff.

Here is a listing of all the seats assigned (I’m not real good with cell phone photos.)

Want to bitch about replays and bad calls – just turn to press box and scream!

There are four (?) levels of seats in the box – which is located on the side of the stadium next to the Carnegie Science Center. The left side of the actual press box starts at around the 50 yard line, the radio broadcast box sits right on it. The important print/internet/whatever media types have most of the first two rows starting from the left side. The left is closest to the 50.

Then here is what is around me looking over to there – past this is the main radio broadcast from 93.7 The Fan. Those are the two vertical windows by the left monitor facing the rest of the box (I think). In that lower left corner is where the most-favored media sits as stated above. I believe there is a Spanish broadcast booth off the right side of the box.

Those people are from, in order, Post-Gazette, the Trib, Panther Lair, DK Sports and such. Surprisingly The Pitt POV is also assigned a front row seat but much farther to the right and closer to the end zone but I don’t usually sit there.

The Blessed

The second row is where the decision makers sit – officials doing replays, scoreboard, game clock, and play clock, lots of radio personnel along with bowl scouts. This game we had reps from the Chick Fill-A and Gator Bowls sitting with the Maxwell Award scout.

The third row is interesting as it comprises Pitt Public Affairs kids along with local TV media personnel and NFL scouts. The NFL teams sending scouts Saturday were: Steelers, 49ers, Bills, Colts, Dolphins, Seahawks and Jaguars.

Something to remember about scouts of all kinds is that are mostly local ‘stringers’ who mainly do broad canvassing of local teams/talent then send reports into their employers – if they ping on someone special then the NFL teams send their major scouts to do follow-up and more in-depth reporting. Some major print/Internet outlets like Sports Illustrated and others use stringers like that also.

The bands attempt at a Panther Head? I couldn’t really tell…

When you’re done eating, drinking and schmoozing you are ready to move to your assigned seating for that pre-game stuff and coin toss. As you can see by the seating list graphic above The POV was assigned in the 40s for this game which is nice. However I always take a seat way up on the fourth (3rd? I’m confused) level so I can get closer to the mid-field and have less people around me as I like to, gently, cheer and groan as appropriate (and sneak a vape now and again – don’t tell EJ, usually I go to the bathroom for that).

Now, this was a big game. Next home game against Rhode Island seating will be much more compact as many less outlets will not care all that much.

Speaking of which they make a rather stern announcement about ten minutes before kickoff stating that the Box is a ‘professional area’ and as such no cheering, yelling, swearing, etc. will be tolerated and if you do so they will kick your ass out. I paraphrase there.

First here is my layout:

Looks like I know what I’m doing, huh? To be honest I mostly just comment on the game thread and take a lot of notes for my own info and maybe for future articles – like this one.

Here is a view of pre-game warmups from the box:

I need to buy decent binoculars as almost everyone else has.

Here is a foggy look at some of the seating below and to the right of where I sat.

See the TV monitor? There are a bunch of them all over the press boxes and are mostly live TV feeds, etc. The ones by the game officials sitting in the press box might show different angles and close ups.

Here is a another look at the band, this time doing a more recognizable Pitt Script.:

See that Pitt Script is done with a uppercase “P” and then lower case “itt”? This is how it is written – “Pitt” not “PITT”

There you have it – sorry for the crappy photos but I hope you now have a sense of what goes on up there and what it looks and feels like to be there on gameday. EJ called me back in 2010 when I was writing on The Pitt Blather and offered me media credentials and I thank him for that.

Sometimes I wish I lived in Pittsburgh and could devote more of my retired time to Pitt football and then really give the POV blog some looks into the background of the program and the admin surrounding it.

But, I also love living down here in Maryland – so maybe two or three times a year. I do plan on being more involved with Pitt football than I was the last few years. It was pretty much impossible for me to follow anything related last season but I’ll be more in-tune and involved now.

HTP!

20 thoughts on “A View From the Press Box

  1. First off, a tip of the hat to JoeL for such a great suggestion

    Next, thanks to Reed for the informative look. Really enjoyed it. Reed, did you schmooze with … local sportswriters? Pat B? Anyone from Tennessee?

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  2. EJ is a good man. Pitt has far too few of them and ladies who know sports as a business but more importantly as a bridge to the community.

    Salute to the Pitt Alumni Association and the Clipper for Vols fans. Classy move unlike the ticket office.

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  3. Reed – thanks for doing that!

    We hear about it from time to time on the radio and in print, but always wanted a little more insight.

    If I remember correctly, you were in there for the first half. Given the start to the game, did you pick up on any rule-breaking… i.e. hear any muffled cheers or expletives? DId you speak with any of the other folks in there… Jerry DiPaola or Chris Peak for instance?

    And for the replay review, does one here an offical say, “oh, they may have missed that call. Will need to buzz them.”

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  4. You are welcome guys. Good to see you enjoy it.

    I couldn’t hear the box officials talking – and truth be told I may be misleading you a bit – the officials on the field have the main monitor and look at that while discussing the rules applications with the officials up in the box.

    From what I understand the upstairs guys see exactly the same film as the field guys – but then the field official(s) make the final determination. I believe the field officials make the call for a review – they don’t get buzzed by the box officials.

    In essence the box officials are the supporting staff.

    Yes, the UT media guys I talked with were as nice as the UT fans I talked with – class acts all around.

    I didn’t really schmooze with anyone because as I said I’d rather spend time with you guys then with the admin/media people. EJ has called me on occasion and I’ve call to talk with him – both about Pitt FB issues and outside stuff.

    We also email each other often so really no need for us to do anything but say hello at the games – EJ is super busy on gameday as is his staff and honestly, they do a fantastic job not only on gamedays but all year round – it isn’t just FB that keeps them busy but every Pitt athletic team.

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  5. Rich has a pre-game article that will post at 6pm this evening and I’ll do the gameday threads/predictions, etc.

    I still have to go over the predictions from the UT game but I might have been closest. I’ll not accept any trophy or monetary awards though.

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  6. I enjoyed it. Always been interested in what occurs in the Press Box. Now I have a better understanding. Maybe would like to visit and see in person but would rather sit in the stands.

    Leaving for Columbia in next half hour for my daughter’s surprise birthday party.

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  7. I agree, great idea for an article, Joe. And thank you Reed for taking the time to put the piece together. Sounds like the POV needs a Pittsburgh “stringer” to fill in for you at the other four home games. A volunteer position of course.

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