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.
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.)
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 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.
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:
Here is a view of pre-game warmups from the box:
Here is a foggy look at some of the seating below and to the right of where I sat.
Here is a another look at the band, this time doing a more recognizable Pitt Script.:
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.