Stadium Review: PNC Park Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates

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.

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11 Comments

  1. BillJordan

    March 26, 2009 at 8:29 am

    If anyone has made a trip to PNC Park, please share your thoughts on the experience here.

    Please check out BillJordan’s last blog post..WBC Key Second Round Moments!

  2. threio

    March 26, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    I have been there its fantastic. i went to a Phillies game there last season. I went on a saturday, maybe 20K fans on a sunny day.

    however the problem with pittsburgh, one road in and out, its tough on a non-resident to navigate in and out quickly.

    Please check out threio’s last blog post..Marson has a bright future!

  3. Ian

    March 27, 2009 at 12:01 am

    I’m from Pittsburgh and have been to many ballgames at PNC Park. Despite the poor team that has played there, it is a wonderful park to watch a game in. You are very close to the field from anywhere in the park, the view is spectacular, and it has an old-school feel despite all the modern amenities.

    It is superior to the other retro parks such as Camden Yards and Jacobs Field, and the Reds new park isn’t even in the same league. Honestly, I would like to know which of the non-historic ballparks (Wrigley, Fenway) that you would say are superior to PNC Park. If PNC doesn’t get a 5/5 rating or close to it, I don’t know what would.

  4. joke

    March 27, 2009 at 3:32 am

    “the thriving city that pittsburgh once was”…right…have you even been to this stadium? because obviously now its a ghost town with nothing in it except abandoned buildings, thats why that view from the stadium is so good. pittsburgh had its renaissance in the late ’80s and is in really good shape right now.

    “not given the publicity it deserves because the team has not played well enough to garner national television appearances”…except the all star game wasn’t played there or anything. so nobody has ever seen it or even heard of it.

    the bridge closest to the stadium is the Roberto Clemente Bridge. the right field wall is 21 feet high in honor of Roberto Clemente. the steel beams are blue not black.

    overall this stadium is basically amazing. in fact, its so great that you can enjoy a night at the ball park without even realizing the pirates are pretending to play baseball. the food is great. quakersteak and lube wings, and that famous pittsburgh sandwich, primanti brothers. if you’ve never had one, you’re a joke.

  5. BillJordan

    March 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks for the comments, they are much appreciated. It is truly a great stadium and I am glad all of you have had a chance to visit.

    Please check out BillJordan’s last blog post..Indians Send Some Big Names to Columbus!

  6. Keith

    March 30, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    PNC is truly in a class by itself. When you enter the stadium, you don’t actually enter a stadium. You feel like you are outside the whole time. There isn’t a bad seat in the ballpark. There’s even great standing room options; too bad the Pirates don’t ever need it.

    You should also mention Manny’s BBQ, a beef stand in centerfield where the sorta-great Manny Sanguillen himself takes photos with you and signs autographs all game long. Pierogi race, Pirate Parrot, statues of Stargell, Clemente, and Wagner… there’s so much going for this place.

    It’s also one of the most affordable ballparks in baseball. If you’re a Mets or a Cubs fan, you’re probably better off flying into Pittsburgh than paying a ticket broker to catch a game at home.

  7. BillJordan

    March 30, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    All of that information is interesting. I’m glad that you shared that with us. You are correct in saying that going to PNC Park is an experience in itself. It really doesn’t matter how well the Pirates are doing, especially if you’re not a fan of the team, but the atmosphere created by the stadium is tremendous.

    Please check out BillJordan’s last blog post..Indians Send Some Big Names to Columbus!

  8. BillJordan

    April 8, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks for that link as well. It is much appreciated.

    Please check out BillJordan’s last blog post..500 Home Run Club Launches Facebook Group!

  9. Louise

    June 15, 2009 at 5:44 am

    Pittsburgh Pirates should be always competitive enough to keep pace with the others. I really like them; they’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB. Just read about them here:

    http://www.piratesdaily.com

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