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March 07, 2014

Midway on the Move

Carnival Committee Seeks New Location for 2015

By Dan Mohler

carnivalSpring Carnival will begin its second century in 2015 with a distinctive new look.

The mainstays - buggies, booths, carnival rides and live entertainment - will remain, but the Midway will have a new home as work moves forward to transform the Morewood parking lot into the Tepper Quadrangle, a major academic hub that will include a new home for the Tepper School of Business, a new welcome center, a fitness center and café, and meeting spaces and classrooms.

Alternative Midway sites have been the focus of a committee of students, faculty and staff, and in early February Tim Leonard, coordinator of Student Activities, hosted a town hall meeting
to present the possible new venues.

The committee's proposals are:

  • The College of Fine Arts (CFA) parking lot;
  • The East-West Walkway Extension and Merson Courtyard;
  • The Doherty parking lot;
  • Margaret Morrison Street;
  • The fourth floor of the East Campus Garage;
  • Morewood Avenue; and
  • Gesling Stadium.

Leonard said the committee looked at the positives and negatives of each location.
"We specifically looked at carnival noise and its proximity to neighbors, accessibility for pedestrians, the parking and traffic consequences, accessibility for emergency medical services and the locations' impact on campus grounds," Leonard said.

The committee rejected the Margaret Morrison Street and Morewood Avenue locations because the City of Pittsburgh would require a large payment to close down city streets for 10 days - the time needed for set-up, Carnival events and tear-down of all booths, amusement rides and clean-up. Funds from this payment would offset lost revenue from parking meters and the cost incurred for changes in traffic patterns.

The massive weight alone of Swank's Steel City Shows amusement rides would destroy Gesling Stadium's artificial turf, the East-West Walkway Extension and Merson Courtyards. Height restrictions prevent any two-story structure from being built on top of the East Campus Garage.

While Leonard said the new site for 2015 has yet to be determined, the CFA parking lot and the adjacent CFA lawn and Mall area between Baker/
Porter, Doherty and Hamerschlag halls is gaining the most traction because of its central location.

Leonard noted that the potential booth layout in the CFA parking lot would consist of two rows between the lot entrance and The Cut allowing a natural flow for carnival-goers.

The amusement rides on the lawn, however, could cause a problem if the grounds are wet and soggy. Leonard said the weight of the rides would wreak havoc on the lawns, not to mention the heavy foot traffic, so the weather would be a major concern for this area.

Through all of the restrictions and considerations, CFA is the best choice, Leonard said.

"The CFA location will centralize Carnival Weekend programming and will add an abundance of activity that will present a new vibrancy to Spring Carnival," Leonard said. "Midway won't be tucked off in a distant parking lot - it will flourish right in the middle of Buggy, Mobots, Downhill Derby and the AB [Activities Board] concert."

A final decision is expected to be announced by the end of this spring.

This is the last year the Spring Carnival Midway will be hosted on Morewood parking lot.