Pitt officially has begun to play games at its new Petersen Sports Complex, a $29 million on-campus home for the Panthers' baseball, softball and men's and women's soccer teams, but Saturday is the grand opening with all four teams playing there in what athletic director Steve Pederson said will be an historic day for the university.
Wednesday, Pederson led a small group of media members on a tour of the facilities and talked at length about their importance in helping the school's Olympic sports remain competitive in the Big East Conference.
"We now believe we have facilities which are among the best in the country," Pederson said.
"We also have helped, with the support of our mayor, to begin to redevelop and hopefully revitalize a blighted area of the city."
The complex, built where the Oak Hill housing projects used to be, is beautifully landscaped and built with a picturesque view of the city.
The complex includes three state-of-the-art stadiums, all featuring Fieldturf so that the teams can play and practice in inclement weather, a building that houses all four teams' locker rooms and equipment and an indoor facility for batting and pitching.
All three stadiums have state-of-the-art scoreboards and press boxes.
"Any time you have sports teams in the north, the weather is always an issue," Pederson said. "With the playing surface being so up to date, the only time we have to cancel stuff or can't be outside is if there is a blizzard or lightning, and that is a huge advantage for our teams."
Pederson noted that the baseball and softball teams have been able to practice outdoors the past month as opposed to years past when they would have had to be inside the Cost Center.
Although the facilities, along with recent upgrades of Trees pool and Fitzgerald Field House --where the wrestling and gymnastics teams compete -- have been a boost to the campus and Olympic sports programs, there is one more phase which needs to be done: a new track and field stadium on the site of Trees Field (the old baseball and softball fields).
Pederson said that there is no timetable for completion of that project, but plans are in the works.
The games Saturday will have free admission, but general admission to any game at the new complex will be $5 for adults and $2 for students.
Paul Zeise: email@example.com or 412-263-1720.