PITTSBURGH — Pitt will be making a long-awaited change to the Petersen Events Center following the 2018-19 season, athletic director Heather Lyke announced on Wednesday.
As part of the school’s investment into facilities for the upcoming ACC Network, Pitt will replace the hard camera mounts and flip the court at the Pete in order to put Pitt’s student section — the Oakland Zoo — on full display behind the benches.
When the Petersen Events Center was built in 2002, it was built with the student section on the opposite side of the benches, with court-side suites behind the bench area. The hard camera mounts, which are the angle where the majority of the game is broadcast from, must focus on the benches, so that’s meant that instead of a raucous student section, the view behind the play at the Pete has been largely empty, with the front wall of the boxes fronted by just a few, usually empty seats. Here’s a sample:
With the changes, the Oakland Zoo is expect to be a presence that gets known beyond the gym and into the living rooms of fans around the country.
“The Oakland Zoo is one our best assets that we have at Pitt,” Lyke said. “They get to the game and they want to come to the Pete. The Oakland Zoo is critical to our success.”
To facilitate the change, Pitt will sand and re-paint the floor in order to re-orient the logo to the new hard camera mounts, which will be installed on the current bench side of the gym. The project has long been at the top of the minds of Pitt faithful, but the cost of moving the camera mounts, and the hassle of “re-seating” the arena, which Pitt will have to do, wasn’t seen to be worth the investment.
But with the ACC Network arriving and Pitt performing a total overhaul of the cabling and audiovisual broadcasting equipment in the building anyway, it was a good time to make the move.
Of course, the re-seating of the arena has become a lot less of an issue over the last few years, as Pitt’s season-ticket base has waned and overall attendance cratered in reaction to back-to-back losing season for the first time since 1999.
But Lyke has seen significant interest in the program since the hiring of Jeff Capel at the end of March.
“As soon as Coach Capel was hired, the suites got sold right away that were open,” she said. “There’s a demand.”
All of the changes to the Pete and the re-seating of fans will occur after the 2018-19 season. Pitt’s ACC Network studio, which is currently under construction in the lobby of the building, is currently scheduled to open on September 1.