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Food & Games: The 184th (And Final???) Backyard Basketbrawl

(Photo Credit: John Phillips)

(Photo Credit: John Phillips)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — It was a dark and gloomy Thursday in Pittsburgh.  Quite appropriate for the setting of what many see as the final meeting between old rivals Pitt and West Virginia in basketball’s version of the Backyard Brawl.

With the announcement earlier this week that WVU would leave the Big East come July 1, it has become clear that the world of college athletics is nothing more than a revolving door of change.  Old foes and rivals begone, as a new era of financial stability rules the day.

Faced with uncertainty due to other conferences plucking schools from its own league, the Mountaineers were faced with a tough decision, stay the course in the shaky Big East or find a new home.  Oliver Luck did the latter and in swift fashion, moving WVU to the Big 12.

So with great sadness, I found my way down to the Pete on this not so pleasant evening.  I had taken in the final football game back in November, so why not see the last hoops game.  I’m sure at some point they will get this series back in tact on the schedule.  There’s no reason to think they can’t, but who really knows.

With this being the final ‘Brawl’ it became clear that I would not be in my normal seating with the throngs of ‘wretched media’ in attendance.  So I was forced to sit in the auxiliary press box just behind Section 107.  The view was pretty good.

brawl7 Food & Games: The 184th (And Final???) Backyard Basketbrawl

After securing my seat, I took off for the press room to see what was being served for dinner.  Normally a good meal, I didn’t like the looks of the chicken parm.

brawl9 Food & Games: The 184th (And Final???) Backyard Basketbrawl

They were chicken fingers covered in sauce and cheese.  There was some sort of ravioli being served with it that I avoided also.  The fresh fruit tray was fine, but I craved dinner,  so no free meal tonight.  I would be forced to look in the stands for my dining selection of the evening.

Now if you have gone to a game at the Petersen Events Center before, you will have noticed that the fare is very standard, not offering up what you may see at PNC Park or Heinz Field.  But to my surprise, there have been some new additions to the building this season including a sweet treat everybody loves.

brawl6 Food & Games: The 184th (And Final???) Backyard Basketbrawl

In the winter, it’s so rare to have a chance to sample my favorite ice cream stand in Pittsburgh, but here in front of me was a Bruster’s Ice Cream shop.  They are a new sponsor in the building and have two locations.

This one is on top of the building behind Sec 201-203.  I however was not in the mood for sweets and kept walking.  It didn’t take long to find two new food stands inside the Pete.

brawl1 Food & Games: The 184th (And Final???) Backyard Basketbrawl

Added just a few months ago is this place oddly named ‘Fan vs. Food’ where you can dine on very large sandwiches like this one…

brawl8 Food & Games: The 184th (And Final???) Backyard Basketbrawl

Serving up large grinders for $11 like this in honor of the show ‘Man vs. Food’ you can get your grub on by attacking an Italian or Meatball hoagie.  I was told that they had served just four that evening, but on day games, they can make as many as 20.

Passing on the rather large sandwich, I walked to the stand right next to it and found what I was looking for…

brawl5 Food & Games: The 184th (And Final???) Backyard Basketbrawl

Called ‘Slam Dunk’ I found the night’s calling, a fully loaded nacho plate with pulled pork, chicken or beef options to select from.  With some help from the server, I went with the pork…

brawl3 Food & Games: The 184th (And Final???) Backyard Basketbrawl

The meal was $8.50, but when you add the cost of a grape Crush soda, it jumped to $12.25.  Well worth it from what I could gather.  The pork was very good, but it was not hot at all.  Everything was fresh and tasty.

Despite the good food finds, the rest of the evening was a bust.  The Panthers fell apart in the 2nd half, losing 66-48 to their rivals from Morgantown, thus bringing an end (for now) a great college rivalry.  Who knows when these two will meet again.

John Phillips is the author of this article and a former secret member of the Galactic Empire who used to chase Jedi down across the Smithfield Street Bridge.  With that behind him, JP can now be heard anchoring sports updates and hosting weekend talk-shows on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.  Follow JP on Twitter at www.twitter.com/937Phillips 

fng logo Food & Games: The 184th (And Final???) Backyard Basketbrawl