Ballpark Review: PNC P-aaaaaaargh-k

The site has been fairly silent with the summer sun starting to set. It’s just one of the sacrifices made this summer, not due to the lack of stories because there has been plenty (Mets crying in Baseball, an AWESOME home run derby, or the Brewers bullpen catcher setting the Philly Cheesesteak eating record), but just lack of time to do the stories and the site justice (I’ve barely had any time to properly host fantasy baseball leagues).

One thing I have found time for was some vacation time. Time away from the monotony of ever day life. And one thing I (we) like to do on vacation time is visiting new stadiums and watching good baseball. And I was fortunate enough recently to visit Pittsburgh, which many call the best place to watch a baseball game, to see the red hot Pirates take on the National League favorite Nationals.

I’m not here to review the offense heavy game that ran Scherzer out of the game in 5 innings with 5 runs. But I will review a ballpark that is a must visit for any true baseball fan.


PNC Park, Pittsburgh

The Stadium:

  • Very open and airy. Maybe I’m too used to domes, but the outfield seating wasn’t very tall which allows for the nice weather be shared with the fans.
  • Great views of the city of Pittsburgh. Thanks to the outfield not being a skyscarper itself, there is a great view of the downtown, the Roberto Clemente bridge, and you can hear the great sounds of boating and fun being had on the river.
  • Pirate theme is well played. They don’t underplay or overplay the Pirate theme throughout the park. They have their pirate flags and the big Jolly Roger in CF that gets raised after a win. Their scoreboard is all pirate ship themed graphics. And after every home run they fire the cannons and fireworks. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a plank to push the opposing team mascot off either.
  • Great food and amazing prices. They have all your ballpark staples plus fresh seafood (sushi included), wings, extra large sandwiches, and best of all Pierogies. I would definitely recommend the pierogies. One because they have the pierogi races, two they are amazingly delicious, and three they only cost 5 bucks. Most of the food and beer there are surprisingly cheap. I think I paid $8 for a 24oz bomber.
  • Souvenirs. Lots of choices and great deals. I’ve been in a lot of merchandise shops and typically you see all the same things just with a different team logo on the item. But somehow the Pirates merchandise stores have a lot of items and clothing that I have never seen in any other MLB logo. So many choices! And the prices aren’t marked up 400%. The prices are actually amounts you would find at your local superstore. Plus they gave away free shirts to everyone that day and threw shirts into that stands at least twice in the game. Gotta love free swag.
  • Friendly players. Every single half inning, Starling Marte through his warm-up ball into the stands. You don’t see that much anymore. I’m not sure the MLB appreciates it due to the possibility of a lawsuit if anything were to happen. But Marte seems to be a true player of the fans, and that seemed to be the case with all the Pirate players that came near the fans.
  • The only negative I encountered with the stadium was that the traffic and flow in the concourse was horrible. At times we had to walk through the seats in order to avoid complete gridlocks.

The Fans:

  • Diehards. It may just be the fact that the Pirates are competitive again, but the fans are enthusiastic and nice people. There were a few National fans around us that had to make a scene but the Pirate fans left them be. No jawing, just ignoring. And the stadium was pretty much sold out and the streets/bars were packed with people that I don’t even think had tickets to the game.
  • The mates dressed their part. It never occurred to me but I think the Pirates may be the only team that the fans can actually dress up to show their team’s support. I mean who is going to dress up as a type of bird, a fish, or an article of clothing you wear on your feet. Maybe an Angel or a Ranger?! But yes, in Pittsburgh, it isn’t weird to see Pirates roaming the streets (some of them drunk like its their only day at port) or the concourses. In fact, I’m kind of upset I didn’t strap on my peg leg, pulled down an eye patch, and had Petey the Parrot on my shoulder.

The Location:

  • The city. Another stadium located in the heart of the city. Not on the outskirts, not in the sticks, its in the city. What is even more remarkable? The city shuts down the Clemente bridge and surrounding roads for games, which becomes mobbed with people. The river separates the game from the high rises, and the trees and rolling hills separate the city from the freeways and passers by.
  • The stadium surroundings. As mentioned previously, the surrounding streets are shutdown pre, during, and post game. There are lots of bars and restaurants within close proximity of the stadium. But even cooler are the bars and restaurants built into the exterior of the stadium that allows fans (with and without tickets) to eat and drink while socializing in the shut down streets. They even had a live band playing outside the gates pre-game.
  • The river. I’m jealous of the fans who just cruise down the river. Dock their boat in right field. Listen to the game on the radio and the sounds of the stadium. Heck, they even got a chance at 2 home run balls at the game we were at.

Seriously, put this stadium at the top of your list of next visits. You won’t regret it (except maybe the hotel prices around the stadium).

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