Most rivalry games throughout the years have earned playful nicknames — The Duel in the Desert between Arizona State and Arizona, the Holy War between BYU and Utah and Auburn and Alabama’s Iron Bowl are a few.
But the re-vamping of the age-old Pitt-Penn State series, a four-game slate over the next four years, has taken that a bit further — and put a price tag on the rivalry.
The athletic department announced on Friday that the game will henceforth be dubbed the “Keystone Classic” and will be presented by Peoples Natural Gas. The first game in this series, also Penn State’s first visit to Pittsburgh in 16 years, kicks off at Heinz Field on Sept. 10 at noon, and is already a projected sellout.
“We are appreciative of Peoples Natural Gas supporting the Keystone Classic,” said Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour in a press release. “We are looking forward to the next four years and the opportunity that it presents to our fans as we renew this series with a longtime opponent in Pitt.”
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The four-year deal between Peoples Natural Gas, Penn State, Pitt and sports marketer IMG locks in place the branding, social media, activation and assets for the game and the fiscal production that comes with it.
Pitt and Penn State also share a clothing licensing partner, CLC, who will create lines of merchandise for both schools.
“Peoples is proud to support this event that celebrates two universities that add so much to Pennsylvania,” said Morgan O’Brien, CEO of Peoples Natural Gas. “The Keystone Classic will attract tens of thousands of visitors to our area to patronize restaurants, shops and hotels. And, it recognizes the proud traditions of Pitt and Penn State, whose alumni contribute greatly to our region’s workforce.”
Penn State athletics and IMG declined to comment on the fiscal properties of the deal. Requests to reach representatives at Peoples Natural Gas went unanswered through Friday afternoon.