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Petersen Events Center

Petersen Events Center
"The Pete"
Petersen Events Center
Location 3719 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
Owner University of Pittsburgh
Operator SMG Facility Management
Capacity 12,508
Surface Hardwood Basketball Court
Broke ground June 15, 2000
Opened April 27, 2002
Construction cost $119 million
($158 million in 2016 dollars[1])
Architect Apostolou Associates
Rosser International of Atlanta
Structural engineer Walter P Moore & Associates[2]
Services engineer Brinjac, Kambic & Associates[2]
General contractor Pitt-Center Partners (joint venture between Mizerak Towers and Associates, P.J. Dick Inc. and O'Brien Construction)[3]
Pittsburgh Panthers (NCAA) (2002–present)
Pittsburgh Xplosion (CBA) (2006–2008)

The Petersen Events Center (more commonly known as "The Pete") is a 12,508-seat multi-purpose arena on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It hosts the men's and women's Pitt Panthers basketball teams. The arena is named for philanthropists John Petersen and his wife Gertrude, who donated $10 million ($13.7 million in 2016 dollars) for its construction.[4] John Petersen, a Pitt alumnus, is a native of nearby Erie, Pennsylvania and is the retired President and CEO of Erie Insurance Group. The Petersen Events Center was winner of the 2003 Innovative Architecture & Design Honor Award from Recreation Management magazine.[5]


  • History 1
  • Amenities 2
  • Student section and accolades 3
  • Other uses 4
  • Notable events 5
  • Fictional portrayals 6
  • Incidents 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10
  • Gallery 11


The arena opened in 2002 on part of the former site of Pitt Stadium, which housed the university's football team from 1925–1999. The Pitt men's and women's basketball programs make their home here, previously residing in Fitzgerald Field House. The new building, due to its larger capacity, also meant that Pitt no longer had to play certain games or hold graduation ceremonies at the Civic Arena.

The Petersen Events Center's plaza is also the site of one of the campus' Panther statues and the former site of Pitt Stadium.

Its first event was a Counting Crows concert. For concerts the Center seats 9,000 for end-stage shows, 14,763 for center-stage shows. The first official women's basketball game at the Pete was 90-51 win over Robert Morris University on November 22, 2002. The first official men's basketball game at the Pete was an 82-67 win over Duquesne University on November 23, 2002. Since its creation through the end of the 2012-13 season, the Pitt men's basketball team has compiled a record of 180–22 (.891) at the Pete,[6] including a 9-1 record against teams ranked in the top five. Pitt broke the 100 win mark on November 22, 2008 with an 86-60 win over Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and the 200 win mark on December 30, 2014 vs Florida Gulf Coast.

In 2006, the Pittsburgh Xplosion, a professional basketball team in the Continental Basketball Association, played its first game at the arena. The team folded just prior to the start of the 2008-09 season.[7]

In October 2011, a new high definition video board was installed in the Petersen Events Center.[8]


With 430,000 total square feet, the Pete seats 12,508 for basketball and 9,000 for end stage concerts. The arena features 16,000 square feet (1,500 m2) of lobby space with 90-foot (27 m) high ceilings and 42,000 square feet (3,900 m2) of glass with a barely visible coating that allows sunlight through while controlling heat loss and gain.[2] A video score board that had previous hung in Pitt Stadium is installed also in the lobby. The arena also features 18 luxury suites, including five courtside luxury suites (the only college arena with courtside suites) and a 193-seat SuperSuite.[4]

Student section and accolades

The early minutes of a game against number one ranked UConn in 2009. A portion of the Oakland Zoo can be seen at the bottom. Pitt won the nationally televised game 70–60.

The section known as the Oakland Zoo is composed of the sections across from the team benches and next to the court. The name comes from Oakland, the neighborhood where Pitt's campus resides. The students in the Zoo wear gold T-shirts with the words "Oakland Zoo" in some way, shape or form across the front. This layout and unity is a large factor in why the Pete is such a tough place to play for opposing teams. In fact, Pitt has lost only three home non-conference game since the Panthers moved into the Pete in 2002.

In 2006, Sports Illustrated surveyed the Big East Conference's basketball players, and the Pete was named the "Toughest Place to Play," with specific players mentioning the Oakland Zoo and the fans' creativity.[9] In 2013, the facility was also ranked as having the second best game time environment in the nation by USA Today.[10]

The Petersen Events Center also has received accolades for being the sixth loudest college basketball venues according to ESPN the Magazine,[11] the eight best overall college basketball according to ESPN's Jason King,[12] and among the toughest places for opponents to play in college basketball according to multiple Bleacher Report articles.[13][14][15] The Pitt men's basketball team has also sold out of season tickets since the venue opened.[16]

In 2007 and 2010, "The Pete" hosted first and second round games of the NCAA Women's Division I Tournament.

Other uses

An inside view of the arena

The Petersen Events Center serves as more than just the home court of the Panthers basketball teams. Located within the facility is a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) Baierl Student Recreation Center featuring four racquetball courts, two squash courts, Cybex weight machines, a free weight area, aerobics practice room, martial arts room, health assessment area, and aerobic area with treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical and Stairmaster machines and four plasma TVs.

In addition, the McCarl Panthers Hall of Champions, which pays homage to and displays memorabilia from past Pitt athletics achievements, and the official Pittsburgh Panthers Team Store are located in the main lobby of the Pete. [5]

Also included is the Willis Center for Academics for student athletes which includes computer and writing labs, a math and science area, individual tutor rooms, and a career resource area.[2]

The arena was also one of the home courts for the Pittsburgh Xplosion Continental Basketball Association team, the city's only professional basketball squad at the time, before it folded prior to the 2008-09 season.

Also, a food court is located within the Pete and is available to students and others during the weekdays in addition to when events are being hosted within the arena.[6]

The arena also features and auxiliary practice basketball facility, athletic training, office and media facilities.

The Pete also hosts the University's commencement ceremony.

Notable events

The University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine, Scaife Hall, and the Thomas E. Starzl Biomedical Science Tower can be seen reflected in the Pete's glass facade.

Fictional portrayals


In March 2011, a 19-year old man ran through a window at the arena and fell four stories. He died shortly afterwards.[20]


The Pete also hosts Pitt's graduation ceremonies.
  1. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "Panther Paradise". Recreation Management (Palatine, IL). July–August 2003. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "First Annual Innovative Architecture & Design Awards". Recreation Management (Palatine, IL). July–August 2003. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  6. ^ "Post Game Notes". March 3, 2013. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  7. ^ Wilkin, Tim (2008-12-05). "Shaky CBA getting help from ABA". Albany Times Union. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  8. ^ "New HD Video Board for the Petersen Events Center". Pitt Panthers on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  9. ^ "Exclusive Players Poll: Big East: Toughest Place to Play". Sports Illustrated 104 (10). 2006-03-06. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  10. ^ "Ranking the top game atmosphere arenas in college basketball". USA Today. March 4, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Allen Fieldhouse Named "Loudest Arena In Country". Wichita, KS: November 5, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  12. ^ King, Jason (January 16, 2013). "King's Court: Home sweet home". Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  13. ^ Trahan, Kevin (July 11, 2011). "10 Toughest Places to Play in College Hoops". Bleacher Report. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  14. ^ Pauker, Lance (June 24, 2010). "We Have To Go There?! The 10 Toughest Places To Play In College Hoops". Bleacher Report. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  15. ^ Polacek, Scott (September 13, 2012). "College Basketball: 15 Arenas You Don't Want to Play in". Bleacher Report. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Pitt men's basketball games sold out again". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. November 4, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Pitt expected to be hub of Senior Olympics games". University Times (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh). 2002-12-05. Retrieved 2010-08-10. 
  18. ^ PG: Senior Olympics: Today's Schedule
  19. ^ Fuoco, Michael A. (2009-05-31). "Extras learn the not-so-glamorous side of showbiz". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  20. ^ Nereim, Vivian (2011-03-31). "Man dies after fall from Petersen Center window". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA). Retrieved 2011-03-31. 

Further reading

  • Pitt Magazine feature on the Pete: Center of Attention

External links

  • Petersen Events Center
  • Petersen Events Center on Pitt's virtual Campus Tour
  • Petersen Events Center Rain Garden on Pitt's virtual Campus Tour
  • Pitt men's basketball


Preceded by
Sennott Square
University of Pittsburgh Buildings
Petersen Events Center

Constructed: 2002
Succeeded by
Pennsylvania Hall
Preceded by
Fitzgerald Field House
Home of the
University of Pittsburgh Basketball
Petersen Events Center

2002 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Payne Whitney Gymnasium
Host of the Jeopardy! College Championship
Succeeded by
PNC Arena
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