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Official Review by Phil Navatsyk, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Peterson Events Center, lovingly known as “The Pete” by the locals, is the host to the majority of Pittsburgh Panthers home games. The arena sits in Oakland just outside of downtown Pittsburgh. It was built in 2002 and holds 12,508 fans. The arena’s exterior is one of the most beautiful parts of an already impressive Pitt campus, and the inside looks just as great.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The variety of options here is what really makes it stand out. They have the usual sporting event classics such as hot dogs, pizza, nachos (with cheese and/or salsa), popcorn, and various candy bars. The drinks are Pepsi products and cost $5 for a 32oz. cup and $4.50 for a 22oz.
Right after entering the building through the main gate, three escalators lead to a giant food court. The food court has all kinds of choices, including pasta, subs, build-your-own salads, and Burger King. Head up to the main concourse and you'll find options such as Angus burgers and sliders. There are also a total of seven options for traditional ice cream cones or bowls to go along with Dippin' Dots stands throughout the main concourse.
The best part about the food options at The Pete is the access to unique foods you don't always see at games. Instead of going to the main stops with multiple lines, try stopping by the Three Point Café. Its menu is small-it only sells pulled pork sandwiches and Philly cheese steaks-but the quality is great. Located right next to Three Point Café is the Taste of Pittsburgh stand. There you can buy pierogies, Italian sausage sandwiches, and kielbasa. Taste of Pittsburgh is one of the best-known places to eat in downtown Pittsburgh, so their stand at the game is a welcome site for local fans and visitors alike. Lastly, for those willing to pay a little extra, the Campus View Club offers chef-prepared meals that change on a game-by-game basis. All in all, the Peterson Events Center has a great selection of food and it doesn't take long to find something you like.
Outside the arena is buzzing with Pitt fans swarming to the game. The Pete is located in the middle of the beautiful Pitt campus and it's noticeable. Students and fans are everywhere before the game, whether it is cooking out in the chilly weather or scalping tickets.
Inside, it's not quite on the same level as a Duke or UNC home game, but the Panthers have quite an atmosphere at The Pete. The student section, known as the Oakland Zoo, takes up the majority of the seats near the floor. The student section is always into the game and no matter what the scenario, they are a raucous group every time the opposition has the ball. It is clear the team gets fired up every time they get to play in front of their home crowd. Even on nights where it doesn't sell out, most of the seats will be filled at a Pitt game.
Oakland isn't a bad neighborhood by any means, but it is certainly forgettable. As with much of the Pittsburgh area, the biggest issue on a game day is traffic. While it doesn't have nearly the number of one-way streets as downtown Pittsburgh, Oakland still has plenty of one-ways and narrow alleys. The Pete is relatively easy to get to, but fans should certainly leave early to make sure you get into the arena for tipoff.
The area does not have a huge variety of restaurants, but it gets the job done. With Oakland being a popular weekend destination for local college students, most places are small pizza joints or sports bars. However, one restaurant I love in the area is Thai Hana. It is a delicious Thai restaurant and it is only about a quarter mile from the Peterson Events Center. Pittsburgh Popcorn Company is another wildly popular spot if you want to try some gourmet popcorn.
Pittsburgh isn't known as a basketball town, but they love their Panthers. The Pete always has a pretty good crowd, but it is exceptional when they have a big game. The fans provide a consistent noise level that, while not deafening, certainly lets their presence be known. The most impressive part is how few of them leave their seats while the game is being played. Should you need to get refreshments while there, go during a timeout. The concourse is so empty that it's almost possible to get food and make it back to your seat before the game begins again.
Oakland can be a tough place to find parking. Garages and lots will charge various amounts, but the prices are manageable, especially compared to a Pitt football game at Heinz Field.
There are multiple entrances and exits, and the lines move very fast. The Pete also has elevators and handicap-access seats. The best feature of this arena, though, is how wide the walkways are. It makes navigation a breeze and makes it one of the easier college arenas to walk around. In the event that you get lost, there is an information kiosk on the concourse level, as well as multiple personnel there to assist you.
Between the exciting environment, big crowds, and high quality basketball, there is nothing to complain about when it is all over. The ticket and parking prices are both extremely manageable especially when you compare them to other sports in the area. Once inside, it is easily the most exciting basketball experience in Pittsburgh. Based on the arena and crowd, Pitt basketball is a good fit in the prestigious ACC.
Right when you walk in the main entrance, you are greeted with beautiful trophy cases filled with all kinds of accomplishments in Pitt basketball history. Speaking of history, for a brief trip through the history of Pitt sports, there is the McCarl Panthers Hall of Champions. There you can see the rich history of Panther sports. Finally, there are the multiple memorabilia shops to help enrich the experience. One final point for the beauty of the Petersen Events Center, and the Pitt campus. If it is a nice day, take some time to walk around the campus a bit. All of these parts add up to create an experience that is distinctly Pittsburgh.
Member Review by collegiatestdms
The Pittsburgh Panthers play their home games in the 12,508 seat Petersen Events Center, which opened in 2002. Upon arriving, the building looks beautiful from blocks away and it doesn't disappoint when you finally get up the stairs to the main entrance. The Petersen Events Center is one of the most up-to-date basketball arenas in Division I basketball.
Member Review by JVerlin on Aug 05, 2011
Going to a game at the Pete is like seeing an NBA playoff game, every time. The crowd guarantees that--during Big East season especially, the Oakland Zoo makes that building rock and roll, making it one of the most intimidating home courts in the country. Built within the last decade, the facility is clean and modern, with a food court serving the basics (Burger King, etc) while the vendors around the ballpark serve much more varied and original eats. Still, you come to the Pete to watch basketball, and they make sure you get it unfiltered and unedited. The fans know what's going on and support their team endlessly, without the PA announcer needing to start chants or tell people when to cheer. If you're ever in Pittsburgh, and you only have a chance to see one sporting event...make it a Pitt basketball game. You won't regret it.
3710 5th Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
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