Heinz Field (Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt Panthers)
Photo courtesy of AP Images
The Skinny: Though much of the Steelers’ storied franchise history took place in their former home at Three Rivers Stadium, Heinz Field has proven to be a worthy replacement for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since opening in 2001, the Steelers have dominated at home en route to two championship seasons in 2005 and 2008. The $281 million dollar stadium is a staple in the Pittsburgh community. Upon its opening in 2001, it featured the largest video board in the NFL, measuring 26 x 97 feet. Named after the H. J. Heinz Company, its “tipping of the ketchup bottles” is regarded as one of the top ten touchdown celebrations in the NFL. Both ESPN and Sports Illustrated have voted Heinz Field the NFL’s second best stadium by, trailing only top-ranked Lambeau Field. The stadium also hosted the 2011 NHL Winter Classic on January 1, 2011 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
Year Opened: 2001
Capacity: 65,050 seats
Best Moment: January 23, 2011. The Steelers have won two Super Bowls in the past six seasons, but it was a 24-19 win over the New York Jets in the 2010 AFC Championship Game that was the Heinz Field high point. The win sent the Steelers to Super Bowl XLV, their eighth Super Bowl berth, tied for the NFL record.
PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Photo courtesy of MLB.com
The Skinny: While Pirates fans may not have much to cheer about on the field, the field itself has been a tremendous success since opening in 2001. Located in downtown Pittsburgh, PNC Park is located right along the Allegheny River and offers spectacular views of the city of Pittsburgh. The stadium features a riverside concourse, a large out-of-town scoreboard and array of local eateries. PNC Park was constructed in a 24-month span, making it the quickest built stadium in history, at the time. Although its seating capacity is the second smallest in baseball, the park does post the third lowest average ticket prices in MLB. In 2006, PNC Park hosted the MLB All-Star Game, providing a major boost to the city of Pittsburgh and its surrounding businesses. The stadium has also hosted University of Pittsburgh baseball games as well as a slew of concerts including the Rolling Stones and the Dave Matthews Band.
Year Opened: 2001
Accolades: Since opening, PNC Park has received a large amount of critical acclaim. Jim Caple of ESPN.com rated the ballpark as the number one stadium in Major League Baseball, calling it “perfect.” PNC Park has also been listed on a number of top ten stadium lists in MLB by many other baseball writers and publications. Its blend of old school and modern styles, as well as its fan-friendly amenities and comforts, makes it one of the most desirable locations to take in America’s pastime.
Consol Energy Center (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
The Skinny: An upgrade on all fronts from its predecessor Mellon Arena (Civic Arena), Consol Energy Center offers state of the art designs from the successful company Populous, who are responsible for the two other Pittsburgh stadia, Heinz Field and PNC Park. Besides for the Penguins, Consol Energy Center will be host to 150 events annually, highlighted in the coming years by the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships in 2012 and the NCAA Hockey Frozen Four in 2013. The stadiums seating capacity of 18,087 honors Penguins All-Star Sydney Crosby, who wears number 87.
Year Opened: Fall 2010
A Real LEEDer: The Consol Energy Center achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification, the first NHL arena to reach that standard of sustainability.
Milan Puskar Stadium (West Virginia Mountaineers)
The Skinny: Milan Puskar Stadium, better known to its Mountaineers faithful as Mountaineer Field, was opened in 1980 replacing the old Mountaineer Field, and is located on the campus of WVU. It is the largest on-campus stadium in the Big East Conference. Since it was opened in 1980, the stadium has undergone several facelifts that added more seats and suites to better service the Mountaineer fan base as well as alumni and potential sponsors. With a stadium that is often filled beyond “capacity,” Milan Puskar Stadium offers an electric atmosphere for one of the Big East’s perennial football powerhouses.
Year Opened: 1980
Best Moment: On the opening night of the stadium, September 6th, 1980, John Denver made a surprise appearance and sang his famous song “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which has been played at every Mountaineer home game since 1972. In recent years a new tradition at the stadium is to sing the song every time the team gets a win.
Beaver Stadium (Penn State Nittany Lions)
Photo courtesy of GoPSUsports.com
The Skinny: Regarded as one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play in collegiate athletics, Beaver Stadium is the second largest stadium in the nation and has reached crowds of larger than 110,000 on a number of occasions. Named after former Pennsylvania Governor James A. Beaver, Beaver Stadium has transformed itself time and time again, adding seats and upgrading the stadium from its former structure. Led by the Head Coach Joe Paterno for the last 40+ years, Nittany Lion football at Beaver Stadium showcases some of the best traditions in college athletics that rivals that of any program in the nation.
Year Opened: 1960
Capacity: 107,282 Seats
Student Section Supremacy: Beaver Stadium is often ranked at or near the top of the “Best Student Section” in the country lists, and for good reason. Their White Out games have resulted in tremendous home wins and upsets, and earned them the ranking of best “student section in the country” by ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit.
Petersen Events Center (Pitt Panthers)
Photo courtesy of PittsburghPanthers.com
The Skinny: Better known as “The Pete”, the Petersen Events center is a multi-purpose arena that is home to the University of Pittsburgh men’s and women’s basketball teams. Since opening in 2002, through the 2009-10 seasons, the men’s basketball team has compiled a 122-11 home record. Among the amenities in the stadium are five courtside luxury suites (the only courtside suites in college basketball) as well as McCarl Panthers Hall of Champions, which pays tribute to the Panthers athletic achievements. In 2006, Sports Illustrated surveyed Big East players, which acknowledged that “the Pete” as the “toughest place to play” in the Big East Conference.
Year Opened: 2002
Capacity: 12, 508 Seats
Hail to the Chief: While the Petersen Events center has hosted many memorable basketball games including first and second round matchups from the NCAA Championships, perhaps the best moment in the stadium was on April 21, 2008 when presidential hopeful Barack Obama hosted a campaign rally from “the Pete”. The visit from the now President of the United States was a thrill for the stadium and university and all attendees at “the Pete” on that day.
WVU Coliseum (West Virginia Mountaineers)
The Skinny: The WVU Coliseum houses the Mountaineers men’s and women’s basketball teams and serves many purposes for the athletic department of WVU. The stadium pays tribute to the most well-known and celebrated alum of the men’s basketball program, Jerry West. His “44” jersey hangs from the rafters, and the arena features the Jerry West Mountaineer Room and a bronze statue of West that sits outside the stadium. In 2008, the stadium received upgrades, which included an NBA style scoreboard and new lighting and public address systems.
Year Opened: 1970
Capacity: 14,000 Seats
Best Moment: Following an undefeated regular season in the 1981-82 campaign, the Mountaineers hosted the #1 Ranked UNLV Runnin Rebels on February 27, 1983. In what is considered the greatest win in Mountaineer history, they defeated the top ranked team 87-78 at the WVU Coliseum while posting their second largest attendance on record at 15,638.
Bryce Jordan Center (Penn State Nittany Lions)
The Skinny: Located across the street from the renowned Beaver Stadium on the Penn State University campus, the Bryce Jordan Center is home to the Penn State men’s and women’s basketball teams. The $55 million dollar building offers a great fan experience as well as serving many purposes not only for the University’s athletic department, but other university departments as well. Its bi-level design offers great views of the floor and there is not a bad seat in the house. The Bryce Jordan Center has proven to be one of the best sports and entertainment venues in the central Pennsylvania area, hosting not only NCAA Division I basketball and other sports, but also some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.
Year Opened: 1996
Capacity: 16,000 Seats
Battle Tested: With Penn State’s NCAA Tournament hopes hanging in the balance and a roaring crowd of more than 13,000 on its feet, Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Talor Battle drove to the basket and flipped a shot high off the glass that bounced tantalizingly on the rim before falling through with 0.3 seconds to play to give Penn State a huge, 64-63, victory over #23 ranked Illinois on March 4, 2009 in the Bryce Jordan Center. While the Nittany Lions didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, they did go on to win the NIT Championship.