Robert Morris University will break ground in July on the UPMC Events Center, a 140,000-square foot complex for the Colonials NCAA Division I basketball and volleyball teams, which will play in Peoples Court. The UPMC Events Center is the main part of a $50 million project that also includes a student recreation and fitness center on RMU’s Moon Township campus.
The project will be funded largely through individual donations and corporate sponsorships, including sponsorships from UPMC, Peoples, Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, PJ Dick, and PNC. The project also has received a grant through the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
In addition to the 4,000-plus-seat Peoples Court, a practice court, locker rooms, a strength and conditioning center, offices for athletics, concessions, and a souvenir shop, the UPMC Events Center will feature 11,000 square feet of conference and meeting space for campus events and outside organizations. Plans call for the center to open in January 2019.
"With a new venue of this quality and size, RMU cements its status as a university on the rise," said RMU President Chris Howard. "Not only is it a significant regional asset, it's a facility worthy of the success of our athletics programs and reflective of our status as a nationally ranked university. This is a great day for the Colonial Nation."
"UPMC is thrilled to be a leading partner with Robert Morris University in this exciting endeavor that will provide long-lasting health and wellness benefits to not only the RMU community but also to people and businesses in this entire region. We applaud and share RMU’s commitment to provide our communities with nothing less than world-class care and facilities,” said Jeffrey Romoff, president and CEO of UPMC.
As part of a broader strategic collaboration with RMU, UPMC will become the exclusive provider of sports medicine to the university’s 16 NCAA Division I sports programs, and the UPMC Health Plan will administer the university’s employees’ health insurance benefits. UPMC already provides health care to RMU students at UPMC MyHealth@School, an on-campus health and wellness center that opened in the fall.
“With this partnership, UPMC supports RMU's leading role in the continued development of the Airport Corridor and this region. We look forward to making the UPMC Events Center a crown jewel for RMU and for Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania,” said Romoff.
The UPMC Events Center will bring the Airport Corridor an attractive new venue for public speakers, conventions, expos, concerts, graduation ceremonies and other family entertainment options. It also will host the university's annual convocation and commencement ceremonies, which have outgrown their current location.
All three teams that will play at Peoples Court — men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball — have won the Northeast Conference title and advanced to the NCAA tournament within the last two years.
“RMU is a special place for a lot folks in this region, including many alumni who attended the old downtown campus without ever setting foot on this beautiful campus in Moon,” said Morgan O’Brien ’82 M’85, president and CEO of Peoples and a member of the RMU Board of Trustees.
“This events center will create reasons for people from all over the region to see just how special this campus is. And this collaboration with UPMC will make RMU a place students from all over will want to attend.”
The university’s plans call for the UPMC Events Center to replace the Charles L. Sewall Center, a venue more than 30 years old. Sewall Center will close at the end of June, and new construction will begin in its location. While construction is underway, the men's basketball team plans to play its home games at PPG Paints Arena in downtown Pittsburgh. The Colonials played two games there in December, beating Duquesne University and the University of Buffalo.
RMU has already begun construction of a 2-story student recreation and fitness center at the campus's North Athletic Complex. The center will be completed by the start of the Fall 2017 semester, adding two indoor intramural basketball courts, a fully-equipped weight room and cardio room, two additional rooms for Pilates and other exercise training, plus men's and women's locker rooms, all for general student use.
Until the UPMC Events Center opens, the women’s basketball and volleyball teams will play home games in the student recreation and fitness center.
“We are thrilled to be able to provide all RMU students with a world-class fitness center, which will provide the space that they have been seeking for sports and recreation,” said John Michalenko, RMU vice president for student life. “We have a very physically active campus and we are happy to give our students what they need.”
Plans announced today also include replacing the Sewall Center track with a new track in the golf dome at Island Sports Center. The Neville Island facility is home to the Colonials NCAA Division I track and field, ice hockey, and rowing teams.
"The new UPMC Events Center, together with the student recreation and fitness center, will literally be a 'game-changer' for not only the athletic department but for the university as a whole," said Athletic Director Craig Coleman. "It will be a clear sign to the intercollegiate athletics world that RMU does indeed mean business."
The UPMC Events Center is the latest initiative to provide students with a living and learning environment worthy of their expectations and of RMU's growing stature as a national, doctoral-level university. Scaife Hall, formally dedicated last spring for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, is the third new academic building opened on campus in the last five years.