The scheduling fiasco that saw Heinz Field turn to a muddy mess after playing host to six football games in one weekend this past November likely will be avoided this fall, as Pitt will play at Cincinnati the weekend of the WPIAL championships and the Steelers also have requested that the NFL schedule a road game.
There was concern when the Pitt-West Virginia game was scheduled for the Friday after Thanksgiving that it would interfere with the WPIAL football finals, which have been played on that day the past few years, but the WPIAL championship games are scheduled the weekend before, Nov. 21-22.
With Pitt away, the WPIAL finals could be played on a Saturday for the first time in a few years.
“We are elated by the opportunity to go there,” WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said. “The date of availability will be dictated by the scheduled use of Heinz Field. Our day of preference would be to play on Saturday, if they let us, because we’re in school on Friday. This year, it wasn’t an issue. It’s not conducive to anything we’re supposedly about if we play on Friday when the kids are in school. If we have no choice, we would make other arrangements. Pitt’s away and if the Steelers are away, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
It was a problem that drew national attention last fall, when the WPIAL played four championship games Nov. 24 and Pitt played host to South Florida the following day.
The Steelers placed sod over their DD Grassmasters surface after the Pitt game, but a torrential downpour turned it into a quagmire for their Monday Night Football game against the Miami Dolphins.
Heinz Field executive director Jimmy Sacco was out of town and could not be reached immediately for comment, but the Steelers have already said they asked the NFL to schedule a road game that weekend.
“We always tell (the NFL) we don’t want a game that weekend,” Steelers president Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review earlier this month. “Last year they called us and talked to us and said it will screw the schedule up if we can’t put you at home that weekend. We said we’ll live with it but we don’t want to do it on a regular basis. They know that’s not a weekend that we want to be home.”