Light Up Night, games, shows, concert to attract 400,000 to Downtown Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership expects more than 400,000 people to jam Downtown on Friday night as Light Up Night coincides with a Penguins game, WPIAL championships at Heinz Field and a crowded Petersen Events Center in Oakland likely triggering traffic headaches and a parking shortage.
The Andy Warhol Bridge will close at 9 a.m.; the Roberto Clemente Bridge will close at 10 a.m., both remaining closed until midnight. A host of roads Downtown will close in the afternoon.
“With Light Up Night, we encourage people to use public transportation. People can look at parking on the North Shore and taking T,” said Leigh White, vice president of marketing and communications for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.
“There’s a lot of different, good options like parking at Station Square. People can come in early and have dinner, and it’s a great day to take in other things around town.”
Pittsburgh city officials will light the holiday tree at noon on the portico of the City-County Building, Downtown, with festivities continuing throughout the day, culminating with the BNY Mellon Fireworks Finale at 9:38 p.m. The Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG place will open during the day.
At Benedum Center, Downtown, crowds will be filing in to watch Irving Berlin’s White Christmas the Musical starting at 8 p.m., and at Heinz Hall, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is hosting a free community concert at 7 p.m. The Pittsburgh Public Theater‘s world premiere of Ed Dixon’s L’Hotel opens at 8 p.m. at the O’Reilly Theater.
Pittsburgh Parking Authority Executive Director David Onorato said authority garages will charge the evening rate of $5, except for the Fort Duquesne Garage ($7) and the garage at Ninth and Penn ($6). He directed people to take the T or try the First Avenue Garage or Grant Street Transportation Center garage, which are on the outskirts of Downtown.
“Garages could be full by 5 or 6 p.m. or earlier. People who are coming Downtown can check the Park Pittsburgh app to show availability,” Onorato said.
The Penguins will host the New York Islanders at 7 p.m. in front of a sold-out crowd at Consol Energy Center, and the University of Pittsburgh is hosting Penn State at 7 p.m. in a wrestling match expected attract nearly 7,000 people at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt women’s volleyball is hosting N.C. State at the Fitzgerald Field House, which could attract a crowd of about 1,000 people.
Also in Oakland, Isabella Rossellini will be performing in a show at 8 p.m. in Carnegie Music Hall.
“We’re certainly used to big crowds on the hill with basketball,” said E.J. Borghetti, Pitt’s assistant athletic director. “If fans get there early, they can park and settle in and enjoy the pre-game atmosphere while getting ready for a couple of great events.”
Adding to the crowds will be four WPIAL football championship games at Heinz Field on the North Shore beginning at 11 a.m. with the last game kicking off at 8 p.m.
Ralph Reetz, general manager of Alco Parking said North Shore lots will open by 9 a.m. for football, but workday commuters will park in their regular spaces. Those paying with cash will be charged $10. He directed people to the North Shore Garage and West General Robinson Street Garage if lots fill up.
“We’ll be busy with football, but it’s kind of a wild-card being that they’re playing on a Friday with people working. We don’t know what the attendance will be like,” Reetz said. “With Light Up Night, typically those people come later, hopefully when people parking during the day for work are leaving.”
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or [email protected].