Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Arthur J. Rooney Athletic Field
600 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
Year Opened: 1993
The Dukes' Domain
High above a bluff overlooking the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh sits one of the most unusual football venues in college football. Rooney Field sits in the middle of the Duquesne University campus, with college buildings on three sides of the field and a grandstand atop the bluff along the fourth side of the gridiron. The field is named for Art Rooney, the longtime owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rooney played on the 1920 Dukes team and was a longtime supporter of the school. Rooney Field opened in 1993 and is celebrating its 30th anniversary during the 2023 football season. The venue has a capacity of only 2,000 fans, making it the smallest venue by capacity in the FCS. Rooney Field also hosts the Dukes’ soccer and lacrosse programs.
The Dukes have fielded a football program on and off since 1894. The team played for many years (1994-2007) in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, where they were a powerhouse. During these years the Dukes had a record of 75-9-0, won eleven championships, and had a 39-game winning streak. They now play in the Northeastern Conference in the FCS, where they have won five conference championships. (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2018). The Dukes have sent 44 players on to play in the NFL.
Food & Beverage 2
The concessions program at Rooney Field is very small, as there is a single stand located inside the stadium. Its menu is very limited, with hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, chips, and candy and Pepsi brand sodas being the only items available. The lines outside of the concession stand get very long during breaks in the action. We urge you to plan to eat a big meal before or after a Dukes game.
The games at Duquesne harken back to a simpler time in college football. The field is in the middle of the campus, with a very simple structure consisting of a few rows of seating on one side of the field, and a grandstand and a simple press box on the bluff side of the field. There is one concession stand and a lone set of restrooms at the venue.
There is a simple pep band playing tunes during the contest, rather than a large marching band. The team colors of red and blue represent the Congregation of the Holy Ghost, which established Duquesne University. The only evidence of a more modern facility is the FieldTurf artificial turf on the field itself.
The setting of Rooney Field sets it apart. On three sides of the field, the stadium is surrounded by academic buildings dedicated to educating tomorrow’s leaders. Three sides of the field are bordered by the academic buildings of Duquesne University, including the Academic Walk, the Mellon Hall of Science, and the Tavers Living and Learning Center.
The fourth side of the field features a picture postcard view of Pittsburgh from atop a high bluff. The view includes both the Monongahela River, the towers of downtown Pittsburgh, as well as the Southside neighborhoods of the Steel City. Rooney Field is one of the few college football stadiums in the country to run in an east/west direction. This was the only way the field would fit within the tight confines of the campus buildings.
Rooney Field’s immediate neighbor is the Duquesne University campus. Its broader neighborhood is Downtown Pittsburgh. The city is no longer a city filled with steel mills. They have been replaced by the gleaming towers of some of America’s top corporations. It is also home to more than a dozen colleges and universities. Pittsburgh is also home to a very large cultural community, with theatres, museums, and public art installations throughout the city.
The Strip District is also located near the campus. This is a very popular area filled with interesting shops, restaurants, and activities. The district is home to Aslin Beer Company and offers easy access to the walking trails along the Allegheny River. The Doubletree Hotel and Suites Pittsburgh Downtown is the closest hotel to Duquesne and is within walking distance of Rooney Field.
PPG Paints Arena, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL, is located adjacent to the Duquesne campus. In addition to hockey, it is a popular concert venue for students.
Pittsburgh Regional Transit bus routes connect the campus to the many sports, entertainment, and dining options in the downtown Pittsburgh area. For detailed information, go to www.rideprt.org.
The fan base at Dukes games is primarily made up of Duquesne alumni and current students at the university. The student section at Duquesne games is known as the Red and Blue Crew. The Red and Blue Crew coordinate their cheers with the Duquesne Pep Band.
In 2021, Duquesne University made a major change in the cheer program for the Dukes. The former human with a top hat and a cane is gone. He has been transformed into a blue lion with a top hat and a cane. If you check his eyes closely you will see two diamond-shaped pupils. These diamonds mimic the Pittsburgh Steelers logo, a team Mr. Rooney owned for several decades. We know he would be touched by this subtle salute to his team. The new lion mascot is thought to be more child-friendly.
Getting to and from a Duquesne football game is very easy.
Directions from I-279: Take exit 8A (I-579) off of I-279. Take the Veterans Memorial Bridge across the Allegheny River and exit at the 6th/7th Avenue exit. Follow the signs to Mellon Arena. At the traffic light facing Mellon Arena turn right onto Washington Place. Turn left at Forbes Avenue and continue to the Forbes Avenue Parking Deck. Signs in the parking deck will guide you to Rooney Field.
From the South: Take the Liberty Tunnel and cross the Liberty Bridge in the right lane. Follow the bridge to light at Forbes Avenue. Turn right on Forbes Avenue and enter the Duquesne University campus. Turn into the Forbes Avenue Parking Deck.
Return on Investment 4
Spending a fall afternoon at Rooney Field will not break the bank. Gameday parking in the Forbes Avenue parking deck is $10.
There is a very limited supply of reserved seat tickets which are $18 if purchased in advance or $20 the day of the game. Most seats at Rooney Field are general admission seats and they sell for $12 in advance or $15 the day of the game.
Rooney Field also serves as the home for both the soccer and lacrosse programs at Duquesne.
Mr. Rooney’s Steelers teams used the Duquesne campus for their preseason training camps until 2000.
Mr. Rooney played multiple positions for the Dukes, as was the custom in the early days of college football. He played quarterback and served as the team’s kicker.
Duquesne University and the Dukes football moniker honor Marquis Duquesne, who built Fort Duquesne at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers. He also brought the Catholic faith to this region of the country.
Former Dukes coach Elmer Layden devised the hand signals now used by referees during his tenure at Duquesne.
Rooney Field is one of the most unique settings in the country for a college football game. Its’ perch on a high bluff overlooking the Monongahela River and Downtown Pittsburgh is breathtaking. Duquesne University is to be applauded for finding a way to keep the stadium as an on-campus venue.