PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Pitt Athletic Director Scott Barnes joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Wednesday to discuss the state of Pitt athletics.
Football signing day is in the rear view mirror and basketball season is nearing the stretch run.
Barnes commented on Pitt’s decision to move the football spring game back to Heinz Field this year for the first time since 2011. The event had been held in smaller venues or been skipped altogether over the past four years.
“You look back just a month or so ago, and the momentum that was created in the bowl game in Annapolis – over 12,000 Pitt fans showed up there,” Barnes said. “We’re seeing momentum now in our season ticket sales. As I’ve suggested, we want to set an all-time record in our season ticket base, and we’ve got a great start in that regard. And so as you think about the spring game, it’s a next step in thinking a little bigger, and casting a bit of a wider net on what we really want to be…we’ve played at some high school venues, we’ve played at Highmark [Stadium], which is a beautiful facility, but it doesn’t accommodate what our aspirations are – and that’s to really drive that, and again, use that as another momentum piece, as we roll into the late summer, and ultimately, fall kickoff.”
Barnes also discussed his ideas for making the Heinz Field experience better for fans, saying he wants to make it feel more like home.
“I think it goes back to, how do you make Heinz Field ours on game day?” Barnes said. “I think we have a wonderful partnership, no question, with the Steelers. One of the things we want to do [with] the venue itself, the field itself, is to make that look more like more like ours on game day. We’re having conversations about how to do that.”
Finally, Barnes offered an update on Pitt and Penn State’s efforts to extend their football series beyond 2019, explaining that there have been mitigating circumstances preventing anything from getting done.
“In all fairness, we have an agreement to continue to talk as things are sorted out in the Big Ten schedule,” Barnes said. “Will that continue? I’m not suggesting there isn’t a willingness to absolutely look at that longer-term. We don’t have anything consummated. We really haven’t progressed in that regard. But, to suggest it won’t, it wouldn’t be fair. I think there’s an opportunity to do that, but it hasn’t occurred yet. I think as things get sorted out in the conference play there, we’ll get a little more of an opportunity to look at that.”
However, Barnes wasn’t vague about Pitt’s desire to play Penn State year-in and year-out for decades to come.
“You know where we sit,” Barnes said. “We want to play that game in perpetuity.”
The interview can be heard here: