Pitt Offers Free Tickets For UNC Game In Latest Effort To Increase Attendance At Heinz Field
Pitt is "giving tickets away" for its nationally televised game on ESPN tonight against North Carolina in the athletic department's "latest attempt to fill the seats at Heinz Field," according to Brian Batko of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. The school last Friday emailed some season-ticket holders with an "offer for up to four free tickets in the lower level end zone" -- redeemable online by noon today. The crowd for Pitt’s last home game against Virginia on Oct. 28 drew a "season-low" 30,889 fans. That is also Pitt's lowest figure for any in-conference football game since '05, when it played in the old Big East. Now, with a 1-8 UNC team and temperatures "projected to be in the low 40s," one can "hardly blame Pitt for taking measures to combat empty seats for a nationally televised matchup" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 11/9). In Pittsburgh, Paul Zeise writes the Pitt attendance discussion has "become silly." Zeise: "The Panthers have never drawn fans. And that’s why this stuff about an on-campus stadium solving attendance ills is nonsense." Pitt "couldn’t even fill an on-campus" venue from '75-82 when it was one of the "best teams in football." Heinz Field is "too big for the size of Pitt’s fan base and alumni base." Pitt should "tarp some upper deck sections for most games to reduce the capacity, and then win." Nobody would "talk about empty stadiums any more." The argument that "tarping the stadium would make Pitt 'small-time' is ridiculous." Heinz Field is an "albatross for Pitt given the size of its fan base" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 11/9).
WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE: Pitt AD Heather Lyke said of building an on-campus stadium, "We can play at Heinz Field. I think it’s a fabulous venue. Could you build an on-campus facility? It’s really difficult. The opportunity we have at Heinz Field is to right-size the stadium, to banner, to intentionally wrap (the excess seats)." She added, "It’s 68,000 seats right now, which is in the top quartile of the Power Five schools and there’s really only 10-20 schools in the country that really draw consistently over 80,000. ... There’s a way to make the stadium seem smaller, but the amenities at Heinz Field are phenomenal. We’re going to make the best of it" (CANTONREP.com, 11/6).