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  • Patricia Beninato

UPMC Events Center – Robert Morris Colonials


Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86

UPMC Events Center 6001 University Blvd Moon Twp, PA 15108

Robert Morris Colonials basketball website

UPMC Events Center website


Year Opened: 2019 Capacity: 4,000

 

The Little Division One School That Could

A half-hour west of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University may have a bit of an identity crisis. With the University of Pittsburgh hogging most of the city’s college athletics spotlight and Duquesne University taking advantage of its downtown location, RMU struggles to gain attention. It’s a shame because for such a small school (it plays in the Horizon League), it has a very sleek arena, with the Colonials playing their first game there in 2019. So maybe it doesn’t have the allure of the more prominent schools, but if you don’t feel like driving into the city but do feel like watching a live basketball game, this is a nice place in which to do it.

Food & Beverage 3

UPMC Event Center’s concessions are about as basic as it gets–the usual suspects of hot dogs, popcorn, soft pretzels, chips, beer, and Pepsi fountain drinks are represented. Those seeking alcohol have three choices: Coors Light, Blue Moon, and Truly hard seltzer. However, a pleasant surprise is that the concessions stand is sponsored by the local Chick-fil-A outpost and offers a basic CfA sandwich with a fountain drink for $9. A hot dog and a brew will run you $15 max. The selections may be limited, but the pricing is relatively decent.

Atmosphere 4

UPMC Event Center has a 4,000-seat capacity, arranged on two levels around the court with a small club level above that. Student bleachers are behind the west basket. The seats are roomy, with cupholders attached to first-level seats. Views are excellent no matter where you sit, and things are intimate enough so you can eavesdrop on RMU head coach Andrew Toole’s pep sessions.


There’s a super-clear center-court surround screen, with crawl LED displays on all sides and two screens showing each team’s in-game stats. The PA announcer is having fun, as are the cheerleaders, and there are some fan games and contests. RMU’s Continental soldier-clad mascot, RoMo, mills around the seating area and grabs some pom-poms from time to time. The sound system is quiet when the teams are on the court and plays generic rap and other arena standards otherwise.

Neighborhood 2

Since UPMC Events Center is located on RMU’s small campus, which in turn is situated very close to Pittsburgh International Airport, non-students who come to games aren’t going to hit a lively game-day scene. Nearby University Drive has a few chain restaurants, including Pittsburgh institutions Primanti Brothers and Eat ‘n Park, and a shopping center across from campus has stuff like pizza and Starbucks. While technically within walking distance, it’s challenging to get to them on foot due to the lack of sidewalks, so if you’re planning on having a couple of adult beverages, make sure somebody sober is driving.

Fans 2

It could be because the game Stadium Journey attended was at the same time as the last Steelers game of the season. It could be because the Colonials aren’t that good right now. It could be … well, because RMU is a small commuter school tucked away in the western Pittsburgh suburbs, which doesn’t precisely scream “Big-Time College Sports Destination.” The crowd at this game was depressingly small, with literally no one sitting in the student section.


Most of the crowd seemed to consist of basketball players from a nearby suburb’s middle school and their parents, but they were louder than their small number would warrant. Hopefully, more people show up once football season is over. RMU probably would not have sunk so much money into this place if they didn’t.


Access 3

Interstate 376, aka the Parkway, is the easiest way to get to UPMC Events Center, located about 3.5 miles from Exit 57. Parking is limited around the arena, but it’s free. The only mass transit comes from downtown Pittsburgh on the 21 bus, about a 50-minute ride. Once you’re here, you’ll have no trouble negotiating the arena, with wide walkways and a broad concourse. Restrooms are plentiful, clean, and well-maintained, with family rooms available for those with young children and wheelchair-accessible stalls.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets for RMU men’s basketball games run from $25 for center-court seats to $10 for the upper level. Combined with reasonable concession prices, it’s not bad for an area family to come out for an afternoon and take in some basketball without having to go into the city, which seems to be where most of the non-student and alumni crowds (such as they are) come from. There’s something to be said for Division I sports in your backyard, even minor ones.

Extras 2

A small children’s play area with an inflatable slide and basketball hoop is available next to the (even smaller) merchandise kiosk on the main concourse. That’s about it for non-event attractions. Interestingly, tidbits about the school’s athletics history are hidden away in non-public areas. RMU might want to rethink that.

Final Thoughts

Robert Morris University’s UPMC Events Center is pretty state-of-the-art for a small commuter school. However, its suburban location puts it off the radar for Pittsburgh visitors, attracting mainly students, alumni, and nearby families. If you enjoy college basketball, though, there are worse places to watch it than here, with inexpensive tickets and concessions along with comfortable seats.

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