Game Day Buzz: Pitt Fans Packing Heinz Needs to Start In the Offseason

A lot of fans, me included, have complained about the price of Pitt football tickets being too high.  My take was that if you are making this marketing push right now to sell out and “Pack Heinz Field”, you need to make the tickets more affordable.  I am very worried that there appears to be many tickets still available for Pitt’s home game today against Miami just a few hours before kickoff. 

My original stance was that a family of four could not prioritize $55 single game tickets over a $200 grocery bill.  I was thinking back to when my Dad, my brother, and I attended games when I was growing up and the positive impact it had on my Pitt football fanhood now as an adult.  We could not have afforded $55 each as a family.  We also could not have “Packed Heinz” for back-to-back weekends at a price tag of $300+.

However, my stance has changed.  I now realize that those that prioritize Pitt football in their budget don’t try to buy single game tickets.  And I don’t mean prioritize them over food or family needs, I mean those that prioritize Pitt football at all.  In fact, single game tickets are the absolute worst way to buy tickets for both the fan and the team.  The best way to go about getting tickets is to buy them before the season starts.

Fans have many ways to do this, either through full-season tickets or mini plans that Pitt offers before the season.  I am not going to dive into the details or list all of the different ways this can be done because I neither work for the University nor am I paid by them.  

However, I would offer some advice and that is somehow advertise these plans better.  I remember when I had season tickets (and I still would had it not be for circumstances this season where I knew I would miss several games), not only did I get a great deal for six to seven games, but I was more motivated to go. 

I will admit, right here to all of you that I am a hypocrite.  I have been banging the drum to Pack Heinz Field and make this game against Miami and last week’s game against Clemson the loudest games the Panthers have ever had.  I will admit, I did not attend last week, and I will not attend this week. 

I am getting married on November 6th and leaving for my honeymoon in Jamaica the next day. Not only will we be hugging and shaking hands with hundreds of people next weekend, but Jamaica currently requires negative Covid tests to enter their country.   So my fiancĂ© and I felt it was our best course of action to avoid large crowds for a couple of weeks before our big event to ensure the most positive outcome.  It absolutely killed me not to go to last week’s game against Clemson, but I will only have one wedding and honeymoon my entire life and dealing with Covid is what it is right now.  I digress.

What I was saying, is that when I had season tickets, that was the priority.  I’d be asked, “Hey, what are you doing Saturday on x date in the fall” and the answer was, “let me check the Pitt schedule.”  Now, it has become that again so I can bring you all noteworthy articles on the team, but it isn’t quite what it was when I was attending every home game.  Having season tickets locked me into those games each season.

And that is how my family afforded it when we were kids. My Dad bought the three of us season tickets in the bleachers for a fraction of the price, and then we’d find seats in the upper deck to move into in the second half. 

I do feel this is where Pitt is very different than other schools.  I don’t have the data, but I would imagine Pitt, while beginning to climb the rankings in attendance, still has one of the lower season ticket holder numbers among Power 5 schools.  And I’m not trying to cause an attendance argument. 

If a team wins, I don’t care if there is one person in the crowd, that is the better team.  If you lose to an unranked team in a game you were a four-touchdown favorite, it doesn’t matter that there were 100k people in the crowd to see it (shoutout Penn State fans).  But I do believe a larger home crowd can have a positive impact on the home team. 

Therefore, Pitt needs to improve their season ticket holder numbers and that will establish a foundation for better attendance numbers.  Families of four wouldn’t have had to pay $400+ just to attend two games in back-to-back weeks, especially with experts advising parents to start holiday shopping right now due to supply chain issues.  They could have prioritized part of an annual household budget at the start of the year and spent around $600 for their whole family to attend every home game.  Then, if they wanted to earn some of that money back, sell either the Clemson and/or Miami game and get a couple hundred back. 

The team winning the way they are this season certainly should help season ticket packages in 2022.  I, for one, plan on looking into them again as soon as wedding planning is over.  And I do think it’s our duty as fans to do so after a season like this, instead of complaining about high single game prices. 

Pitt  Athletics, however, has to do a better job of marketing the value in a season ticket plan and continuing to grow the program to make that value even more worth it.  This season so far has been a good start.  The Panthers need to keep it going.