DU, Pitt call off City Game for 2019-20 season

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Tavian Dunn-Martin handles the ball against Pitt’s Trey McGowens during the 2018 City Game.
Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Tavian Dunn-Martin handles the ball against Pitt’s Trey McGowens during the 2018 City Game.

Jacob Hebda | Staff Writer

March 28, 2019

After much speculation, it was officially announced last Thursday that the City Game will not be played in 2019, but will resume in 2020.

The annual matchup between Duquesne and Pitt was cancelled for this upcoming year due to alleged scheduling issues for the Panthers.

In preparation for the upcoming year, the Panthers faced a variety of obstacles that would have made coordinating the game difficult.

Pitt will be playing 20 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) basketball games rather than the customary 18. Its season kicks off Nov. 6 against ACC opponent Florida State. That makes for an unusually early conference matchup. For reference, Pitt did not play its first ACC game of the 2018-19 season until Jan. 5.

Additionally, Pitt will be participating in the Fort Myers Tip-Off from Nov. 25-27, as well as the annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

The Panthers will also face another Pittsburgh basketball program when they travel to Moon Township to play Robert Morris in the inaugural game at the Colonials’ soon-to-be-completed UPMC Events Center. The Colonials and Panthers are scheduled to face off Nov. 12.

With all those factors considered, Pitt did not feel the traditional game would be feasible for its team. Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke reiterated that sentiment in a statement.

“Unfortunately, our men’s basketball scheduling dynamics will not allow us to play the game in 2019. We look forward to resuming the game with great anticipation in 2020 and 2021,” Lyke said.

Duquesne Athletic Director Dave Harper also released a statement.

“We are pleased to work with the University of Pittsburgh and our valued partners at PPG Paints Arena to continue the City Game in 2020 and 2021,” Harper said.

“The very title ‘City Game’ is profound. This is a game for the city of Pittsburgh and its sports fans. It is an event circled on calendars each year. Duquesne is fully committed to participating in this game long term and honored to be part of this event for the city. We look forward to building the stature of the game and continuing to intensify the game as both programs continue on an upward trajectory,” Harper said.

Duquesne Head Coach Keith Dambrot seemed dissatisfied with a break from the series. Before the official announcement was made, Dambrot told Paul Zeise on 93.7 The Fan that, “[the City Game] is a great event for this city and it’s a great event for the kids and the students. I’d be opposed to [a cancellation], but it’s not up to me.”

Pitt has dominated the series in recent history, winning all but two games since 2000. That includes the most recent iteration of the City Game, which saw the Panthers defeat the Dukes handily, 74-53.

Despite the lack of parity, it is nonetheless a disappointing announcement for many local basketball fans. Duquesne and Pitt have met on 87 occasions, and it will be the first time since 1969 that the two teams will not play each other.

Despite recent struggles for both programs, there were still 12,246 fans in attendance at PPG Paints Arena for November’s showdown.

With the City Game taking a hiatus this upcoming season, the uncertainty surrounding the 2019-20 Duquesne schedule grows. The Dukes are still yet to officially announce where they will play their home games next season.

Duquesne’s old venue, A.J. Palumbo Center, will be still undergoing extensive renovations as it set to become the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.