Ticket Prices, Non-Conference Dates Set

Since the fan initiatives announced for this past football season were such a big success, the Pitt athletic department will continue them for this year and also has put together a spring football festival prior to the annual Blue-Gold Game to cap spring drills April 11 at Heinz Field.

The stadium gates will open at noon, and from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. there will be two separate family events. The first includes the Pittsburgh players. They will hold a clinic on the field for children ages 12-and-under. At the same time, adult fans can attend a "Chalk Talk'' with Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt and his assistant coaches in the club upstairs.

Admission to the spring game, which is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., as well as all the events, is free. There will be a nominal fee charged for parking that will be announced at a later date.

"We're very proud of our coaches, players and our great fans, and I love any interaction with can get between those groups,'' Pitt AD Steve Pederson said. "When you stand in line for an autograph, you might get a brief few-second interaction with one or maybe two players. (But) the thought of a group of young people working with, say, Greg Romeus, is much more special.

"Also, fans might only see the coaches or hear what they have to say during an interview or maybe at a speaking engagement or hear their comments prior to a game through the media. But for fans to be able to sit in a room and watch Tony Wise draw pass protections on the board and talk about it afterward would be great for the fans. It's basically an adult clinic.''

"All the new initiatives from 2008 will continue in 2009,'' Chris Ferris, Pitt's associate athletic director for marketing, said. "That includes guaranteed season parking for season ticket-holders, the largest family tailgate on Art Rooney Avenue, the Great Lawn tailgate for students, the Pitt Band tailgate and the revised shuttle service for students.''

The Pitt Athletics Department wants to carry the momentum built up during the 2008 football season into 2009. Average attendance increased by 60 percent for last season, and season ticket sales increased by better than 50 percent. Student season tickets doubled, and so did the amount of season parking requests. The West Virginia game was highest-attended game in the Big East Conference last year, according to Pederson.

"(And) we recognize the economic climate that we're in now, so we wanted our season-ticket prices to remain a strong value,'' Pitt's director of ticket operations Reed Patterson said. "We basically kept prices the same by adding a seventh game for $10 dollars, but the average cost per game is lower.''

Patterson added that season-ticket sales were launched last Thursday, and fans have had an enthusiastic response so far. Thanks to last season's on-field success and how well the Panthers drew fans for home games, it isn't out of line for Pitt's athletics department to believe a sellout is possible this year.

The Panthers had some 30,000 season ticket-holders in 2007, and that number increased to 41,000 last season going into the Bowling Green opener. Pitt drew 33,000 fans per game in 2007 and some 50,000 per contest last fall. So, another jump isn't out of the question. A sellout for season tickets would be from 52-55,000 per game due to other ticket obligations such as the visiting team's allotment.

Ticket Prices increased slightly this year.

Please refer to the Heinz Field graphic for seating location and pricing graphic. The ticket prices listed are $10 more than last season when there were only six home games. There are seven this year. Student ticket prices are the same.

Check out where your seats are located this season.

Donations for the Club seats is $500 per seat, and that figure drops to $250 for the North Club, $100 for Panther Gold, $75 for Panther Blue and $50 for Panther Red. These figures have been the same for several years.

One school has not been able to finalize its non-conference schedule, so the complete Big East schedule won't be announced for at least another week. However, Pitt's non-conference dates are set with Youngstown State as the home-opener Sept. 5. Pitt is at Buffalo Sept. 12 and returns home to face Navy Sept. 19. A full opening-month slate ends at North Carolina State Sept. 26.

The other non-conference matchup is a home game with Notre Dame Nov. 14. Pitt's other home games are against Connecticut, Cincinnati, Syracuse and South Florida. The Panthers face Rutgers, Louisville and West Virginia on the road in the Big East. The times will be announced as well at a future date.

Pederson noted that the Pittsburgh Pirates Major League Baseball team has been great with helping schedule game times with Pitt. Pederson added that while he wouldn't be opposed to a Thursday night game on ESPN, Friday night and Sunday night games at home aren't likely. He also did not foresee any expansion to the Big East football conference anytime in the near future.

"I think our conference is set where we are, and we're doing fine,'' Pederson said. "I never thought a championship game was reason to expand a conference. Every game's meaningful in the Big East, because they all factor into what happens. (And) our games were great during championship weekend.''

"I think we're going into the season much different. We have a team that's had success, coming off nine wins, and there's real momentum and a good team coming back. It's time to see a bunch of new stars step up. ... It's going to be very exciting. We're at a different point in terms of where we're headed.''

Spring practice begins March 19 with a 2:45 p.m. workout and ends with the annual Blue-Gold intra-squad scrimmage Apr. 11 at 2 p.m. at Heinz Field.

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