Stadium Review: PNC Park Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates
- Updated: March 26, 2009
Even though the Pittsburgh Pirates carry a history that goes back to 1887, they are often forgotten in historical conversations about baseball these days, perhaps because they haven’t really done anything of consequence in decades. This may be the reason, then that their immaculately built stadium seems to be overlooked when discussions about the great modern parks around baseball occur. When compared to most parks built in the last 20 years, PNC Park would top many in more than a few categories.
Many in Pittsburgh, and even around the country, thought that a new ballpark might bring new hope to a floundering franchise when it was designed and built for the 2001 season. Unfortunately, the Pirates did not experiences nearly as much national, or even local attention, as other teams did with these new parks simply because it really didn’t help them play any better. In recent years, teams have chosen to build new ballparks because they will enjoy increased revenue and attendance, as well as possibly having better play on the field. If those statistics from Pittsburgh are compared to other teams who built stadiums in the past two decades, they rank near the bottom in every one of them.
One of the most memorable parts of PNC Park is the view that most fans will enjoy when attending the Pirates’ home. With home plate just 443 feet from the Allegheny River, fans have a treat with that well known river right outside of the ballpark. It would also be difficult to find a place with a better view of downtown Pittsburgh than fans receive when they arrive at the ball park. This view of the city past the outfield wall will remind many of the thriving city that Pittsburgh once was. Fans will also be able to catch a glimpse of the yellow steel bridges that have become a well known staple of the city. If fans are taking a look at the ball park on a game day, they will find that the bridge closest to the ballpark is closed and filled with interactive activities along with places where fans have the opportunity to get their Pirates merchandise for less than what they would be charged inside the stadium.
The stadium is within walking distance of many places in the city, making it a convenient place to stop for anyone who happens to be traveling to, or through, Pittsburgh. The outside of the stadium is unlike any in the big leagues. With yellow tinted bricks and pillars, it creates a feeling for fans that they are walking through some sort of fancy complex instead of heading to see a baseball game. The top of the stadium illustrates the city’s rich history in steel with black steel rods accentuating the overhead structure.
If there is a turnoff of the ballpark, it would be the name of the stadium, but in today’s world of stadiums named after soda brands and telephone companies, it’s no surprise that this park is named after a bank. There is some saving grace in the company that was chosen as the namesake for the stadium though and that is that the company is actually from Pittsburgh.
The ballpark cost $216 million to build and seats just over 38,000 fans. Most of the seats are individual folding chairs with more than enough room between them so that fans do not feel like sardines.
While their team shop does not necessarily blow the patrons away, it isn’t so small that fans cannot find merchandise that interests them. In addition to having memorabilia for the team, the shop also has a more than usual number of items that are geared towards the stadium and that are marketed after the architecture of the ball park.
It is truly unfortunate that this ballpark is not given the publicity it deserves simply because the teams it has hosted have not played well enough to garner it many nationally televised contests. Fans who truly appreciate nice stadiums regardless of who is playing in them will enjoy a trip to PNC Park.
Major League Stadium Grade: 4.25/5
Overall Stadium Grade: 4/5
Bill Jordan is a contributor to BaseballReflections.com. He can be reached by e-mail at BillJordaniv@yahoo.com.