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On The Road: Pittsburgh

By Selena Fragassi


Unique Venues hosted its recent Annual Members Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and we fell so in love with the city and its venues we just had to share these four top picks with you.

Heinz Field

As if being in a football stadium wasn't enough of a thrill, one of the coolest new venues at Heinz Field (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers) is the PNC Champions Club. This trendy spot features a full glass enclosure where attendees have a unique vantage point from the field's south end zone. "You can sit inside and be 5-10 feet off the grass and see the entire stadium," says Corporate Communications Manager Nick Sero. "It's turned into a great spot for events with a full view of the stadium plus top shelf food and drink options."

PNC Champions Club is just one of many options for rental at the stadium, which is located in a prime spot along the Ohio River, just a bridge away from the downtown district. Large-scale events of up to 100,000 (utilizing the 68,000 seats inside and parking lots outside) are welcome as are small weddings and meetings that take place in suites, such as a recent 40-person meetup for a regional chapter of Coaches vs. Cancer. "We really do have a few different areas in the stadium that are good for any size," says Sero.

He also touts the in-house catering as some of the best in all of sports. "We work with Aramark to do catering for all our events, and they prepare barbecue that is brined in-house and is really exceptional." Some of the other features groups can take advantage of are exclusive facility tours, alumni and player meet and greets, and large scoreboards and TVs inside all clubs and suites that can display logos, meeting schedules, or any other visuals a client may need.

"We are not just the home of the Steelers, but the home of Pittsburgh," says Sero. "Whatever the event is, the client will find the right spot for them.

Howl at the Moon

Music can not only add ambiance to your next event, it can also be the main focus when you gather at Howl at the Moon. This high-energy piano bar is one of 16 national locations (with a few more on cruise ships), located in Pittsburgh's cultural district. "We are in walking distance to the convention center and stadiums, so people can easily find us," says Sales & Event Manager Natalie Holoweckyj, noting that Howl at the Moon has quite the range for what it can host. "We can do just about everything, from luncheons to offering our stage for speakers, team-building activities, or the traditional nightlife experience. It really is customizable for each group."

Holoweckyj and her team can coordinate full buyouts for about 400 people or semi-private event space for a group as small as 10. Though the main floor is one open room, the Moon Deck is another popular option that has an elevated area and private bar. The venue has full catering services (whether just apps or a complete dinner) and bar options including hourly drink packages and drink tickets. There are also A/V capabilities, including microphones and TV monitors for slideshows and logos. "We can also work with third party vendors if needed," says Holoweckyj.

Of course entertainment is the big draw here, and there are several packages groups can take advantage of, from setting up a dinner and dueling piano show to a more customized concert with a curated playlist of tracks. "Our musicians really can play everything," says Holoweckyj. For private events, planners can also fill out a questionnaire that allows the musician to play a song written just for the group. "We can also do something a bit more structured like a 'name that tune' game," she adds. "Our goal is to ensure everyone has a good time."

PNC Park

Enjoying a day at the park is a totally different ballgame when you're an attendee of an event rather than a spectator. "People always see a stadium when it's full, but it's such a unique feeling and view when you see it empty and can fully understand the magnitude of how big these places are," says Ann Elder, coordinator of sales, PNC Park Events.

As the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, PNC Park has seen its share of exciting moments during the regular playing season and the off-season when some truly magical events take place. One of Elder's favorites was a few years ago when a client opted to utilize 90 percent of the park for one event. "We had a check presentation on the field, a private concert with a major music act, themed spaces and decorated hallways, and a formal dinner," she recalls. "We love when clients challenge us. Anything they want to try to do, we will do our best to make it happen."

One of the newest spaces is the Business Center, a versatile option with state-of-the-art A/V, its own private conference room, and reception space. The Hall of Fame Club and Lexus Club are two other popular choices that can be set up in a myriad of ways, each with a patio that overlooks the playing field and the city skyline. The park is actually located just outside the city proper with the benefit of accessible parking and close proximity to hotels and restaurants.

Most events take place when the team is on the road or not active, "but during the season we do have space available and all-day meetings can roll right into a game," says Elder, noting there is space for 5 to 1,000 people, whether it's an intimate networking event or a tented dinner on the field with catering provided by one of two providers. Here, too, sports fans can get incredibly unique experiences from private tours to practice in the batting cages and walking the bases. Says Elder, "We can even customize merchandise through our Fanatics Store to ensure they have something to go home with, too."

University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh has many of the amenities of a large campus, but there is one standout space that visitors always flock to: the Cathedral of Learning. It's the second tallest educational building in the world and plays host to a number of 'nationality rooms.' "Any country you can think of is represented," says Conference Services Manager Adrianne R. Holmes, noting that her department can also set up tours.

For visiting groups, Holmes and her team can help reserve space at the campus' University Club or the Petersen Events Center, both offering a unique layout of spaces. In the University Club, there are two ballrooms, four smaller breakout rooms, and a rooftop terrace with a view of the cathedral. There are also two on-site restaurants for convenient dining experiences. The Petersen Events Center is the university's sports facility with a 12,000 seat multi-purpose arena as well as a handful of other smaller spaces.

Though space is limited on-site for overnight accommodations, Holmes regularly works with nearby hotels, including the Wyndham and Hilton Garden Inn, to secure room blocks and special rates for multi-day conference guests. Other perks of hosting a meeting at the university, she says, is, "We offer free Wi-Fi at the University Club, and there are food and beverage minimums that if a group spends a certain amount, the room rental is waived." Her department can also work with the parking office to reserve spots for conference guests. "We are a one-stop shop that's able to plan an entire conference so it's easier for a planner to navigate. "

Get Connected

Howl at the Moon
(412) 586.5692

PNC Park
(412) 325.4746

University of Pittsburgh Conference Services
(412) 648.1644