With the University of Pittsburgh starting to open up more and more, students are welcomed with a new sight – Heinz Field. Pitt football season is officially underway and now with Heinz Field opening up its doors, the Panther Pitt can be back to full capacity. However, if you’re like me, you may have only witnessed games from your TV screen. COVID-19 ruined my chances of being able to attend a Pitt football game during my freshman year, but with Pitt opening back up, I grabbed my season tickets once the sale began. With attending my first Pitt game in my college career last week, I found some important details every Pitt student needs to know when it comes to Pitt football games.
- Take the school shuttle
Pitt provides students with shuttles to Heinz Field and back on game days. The shuttles begin leaving campus three hours before kick off and will drop you off right in front of Heinz field. If you decide to take the bus less than 90 minutes before the kickoff, expect to be dropped off at the Point. The shuttles are a must on game day. You get to ride with your fellow panthers and don’t need to worry about your transportation for the day!
- Don’t bring Bags
Heinz Field has a very strict bag policy. On their website, Heinz Field encourages guests to not bring any bags at all. If you do decide to bring a bag, make sure it’s clear and small; you can also check out the policy at Heinz to make sure yours is acceptable. When attending my first Pitt game two weeks ago, I witnessed many fans trying to condense their stuff into a small bag which fit Heinz Field’s criteria. You don’t need to worry about having to hold cash as Heinz has transformed into a cashless stadium. So, all you’ll need is a debit/credit card and your Pitt ID. Personally, all I bring is my phone which has my phone wallet on the back carrying both my debit card and Pitt ID.
- Get there Early
Tailgates are a hot commodity at Pitt football games. You can meet friends, classmates and new people at a tailgate. Pitt even hosted a game day tailgate last week to kick off this fall season! Tailgates aren’t the only reason to arrive early. Seats in the Panther Pitt, which is Pitt’s student section, fill up pretty quick. Be sure to arrive early so you can grab the best seats to get the best view! If not, you’ll be stuck walking up and down the aisles searching for a row of seats.
- Be prepared to Stand … a lot
Standing is a must in the Panther Pitt. The student section is the loudest section in Heinz and wants to stand proud for its school. Don’t expect to be sitting a lot when in the Panther Pitt section. Your feet might ache when the game is over, but trust me it’s worth it. Home field advantage is one of the best advantages a team can have for the way a student section can get the whole stadium jumping on their feet to get into the ears and minds of the opposing team. Nothing beats standing on your feet, screaming at the top of your lungs, cheering your team onto victory!
- Get ready to learn the traditions
With the standing comes the cheering. There are a lot of different traditions that go on during the game. One of them being the “Go Pitt” chant that happens at every Pitt’s first down. The band will start the tune, and the Panther Pitt will scream “Go Pitt!”. That’s not the only tradition however. Another is the jazz fingers that the Panther Pitt does when it’s time for a Pitt field goal attempt. Everyone is standing on their feet, hands out, fingers wagging in hopes of Pitt’s successful field goal attempt. Next comes the banging on the stadium chairs. To start off the game itself, Pitt fans will bang their hands on the stadium chairs as kickoff begins. The banging will happen repeatedly throughout the game especially during punts and/or kickoffs to the opposing team. Last comes the basket throwing. Basket throwing happens quite a lot during the football games. You’ll witness several people be thrown in the air as many times as Pitt scores. I witnessed someone get thrown up in the air around 30 times after Pitt scored its 30th point. It’s definitely something to get used to!
- Be ready to belt out “Sweet Caroline”
Every Panther should know by now that “Sweet Caroline” is a staple at Pitt, and especially at football games. The whistles sound as the third quarter comes to a close. The students in the Panther Pitt rise to their feet as the melody slowly leaks from the speakers. “When it began…” you grab your friend sitting next to you and sway to beat. The chorus comes and you know what time it is. “Sweet Caroline,” the Panther Pitt sings in harmony, “let’s go Pitt!”, everyone screams. “Sweet Caroline” is the perfect ending to a Pitt game, especially when it’s a victory like Pitt’s win over University of Massachusetts with a score of 51-7.
Football is a major deal here at Pitt, and attending a Pitt football game is a must for any Panther, especially since Pitt is starting the season off with a 2-0 record! Whether it’s against an ACC rival like University of Miami or an out of conference game against Western Michigan, there’s nothing that beats a gameday at Heinz. If you don’t have the ability to attend the game, you can always grab a bite to eat and watch the game from a local Oakland restaurant like Stack’d!