Robert Morris University has announced the creation of a new, 140,000-square-foot complex for their Division One basketball and volleyball teams: the UPMC Events Center.

The new Events Center will seat 4,000 and replace the existing Charles L. Sewall Center. Construction is scheduled to begin at the end of June and finish in time for a January 2019 opening. The arena will be called Peoples Court.

The announcement comes as part of a broader collaboration between RMU and UPMC. As part of the agreement, UPMC Health Plan will administer college employees’ health benefits and UPMC will provide sports medicine services to the university’s 16 NCAA Division I Colonials sports programs.

“Everyone is going to win,” says Robert Morris President Chris Howard. “This is a wonderful, synergistic relationship and a great opportunity for both UPMC and RMU.”

The new events center is the centerpiece of a $50 million project that also includes the construction of a two-story student recreation and fitness center scheduled to open in time for the fall 2017 semester.

“We want our lifelong learners to become lifelong, healthy livers,” says Howard. “That includes inculcating good habits around fitness.”

Peoples Court at UPMC Events Center
Peoples Court at UPMC Events Center.

The new complex will also have over 10,000 square feet of conference rooms and meeting spaces for university and outside use as well as a practice court and a strength and conditioning center for athletes.

The bulk of the financing for the project will come from external funding sources, including UPMC, Peoples, Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, PJ Dick, and PNC.

Dr. Howard is a former Academic All-American and inaugural winner of the Campbell Trophy (often referred to as the “Academic Heisman”) during his time playing Division 1 college football at Air Force. He spoke of athletics as a “springboard” that brings attention to the university and a way to teach student-athletes leadership, teamwork and discipline.

“I speak to every athletic team we have. I tell them, ‘when we get this right, you become the walking, living billboard of all the values that represent RMU’.”

Brian Conway

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.