PNC Park lives up to the hype.
Before we arrived in Pittsburgh, we had been told by several people that PNC Park was one of the best stadiums in baseball — if not the best.
It didn’t disappoint.
The views from the stadium are phenomenal with the city’s downtown and the Roberto Clemente Bridge as the backdrop beyond the outfield wall. The Clemente Bridge spans the Allegheny River and the waterfront near the stadium has a well-manicured park that is perfect as a spot to hang out before or after the game.
We learned after the fact the Pirates have teamed up with Waze to provide you with the most efficient routes to and from the game. Waze is the only GPS program that (thanks to the partnership) has PNC Park parking lots, event day traffic patterns, and street closures incorporated, providing fans with accurate directions to specific lots with real-time traffic alerts. There are over 20,000 parking spaces in downtown Pittsburgh with prices as little as $5. The Pirates have provided significant guidance on the subject on their website, which also includes info about buses and light rail.
PNC Park isn’t difficult to get to, but it’s also not the easiest spot to access. Interstate 279 will dump you into downtown Pittsburgh and, from there, you will wind through the streets before arriving at 115 Federal Street. There is a lot of foot traffic, as one might expect, so give yourself plenty of time to get there.
Parking isn’t difficult, however, once you do arrive. It’s also not that expensive. We found a parking garage just a couple blocks away for $15.
Oh, those yellow steel bridges are a sight. This is yet another stadium that feels like baseball. There are excellent views from bottom to top and those from the upper deck with a clear city sight line are some of the best. Pirates fans have great pride in their team and the fans and ushers are very hospitable. As people arrived in Section 316, the usher would lead them to their seat and wipe it down for them. It had not been raining, and it just felt like he wanted you to enjoy your experience.
If you only make it to a handful of stadiums in your lifetime, make PNC Park one of them.
Pittsburgh fans love their teams and the Pirates are no exception. We were there on a Friday night when the club had a T-shirt giveaway, so the place was full. Because the Pirates were playing National Central rival St. Louis, there were several Cardinals fans in attendance and that made for a great environment in which to watch baseball.
It helped that the Pirates won — hitting a trio of triples in an 8-1 victory. The passionate fans, coupled with the gorgeous views, made our experience at PNC Park wonderful.
PNC Park — built in 2001 — is an intimate venue that offers all the perks of a modern stadium while maintaining a class ballpark feel.
Because we ate sandwiches at Primanti Brothers in the Strip District before going to the game, we didn’t have much of an appetite at the stadium. There is also a Primanti Bros. location inside PNC Park. Their “Almost Famous” sandwich consists of freshly sliced meats and cheeses, tart cole slaw, and crispy French fries piled high on Italian bread. It’s something you’ll want to try at least once to say you did so.
We did get a hot dog because it was dollar-dog night. We were told the pierogis at the park are excellent and there was a pretty good variety of food choices.
As stated above, parking is not expensive and the tickets are very affordable. We got tickets in Section 316 with a pristine view of the Pittsburgh skyline for just $17 apiece.
Even tickets directly behind home plate — which include a buffett — are priced under $250. There really is not a bad seat in PNC Park, and the higher you go, the better view you have. So stay under $20 and you’ll still have a good time with a great view.
Even before you arrive at the stadium, you are greeted by statues of Pirates greats Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente along the third-base side. Clemente’s statue stands right in front of his namesake bridge.
If you can get into it, the 200-level club area has two full bars. And when we say full bar, we don’t just mean the alcohol selection. There are pool tables inside the enclosed section, just as you’d find in any neighborhood bar.
You have a very good view of the field from inside, but can also go outside to sit in stadium seats.
Although they weren’t there on the night we attended, some people dress as actual sea-faring pirates and greet fans in the left-field rotunda.
The outer promenade is also known as the River Walk and runs adjacent to the Allegheny.
We wished we had been able to spend more time in the city of Pittsburgh itself, but what we saw, we really liked.
The Strip is a transformed warehouse district that now houses a multitude of eateries and pubs.
As stated above, downtown Pittsburgh is about as scenic as you will find anywhere with the Allegheny as the centerpiece of a tri-river confluence that includes the Monongahela and Ohio.