My brother-in-law have made an informal pact to visit a new ballpark every year, and I figured I’d start documenting parks I visit. This year (after a year of scheduling hurdles), we made it to PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Opened in 2001, the park was designed by HOK (what park isn’t designed by them these days?!).
I’ve always liked Pittsburgh, and this ballpark, without question, best exhibits the skyline of its host city better than any ballpark I’ve been to before. Being the first two-deck stadium since 1953, PNC didn’t disappoint; sitting in the upper deck, it was surreal to see a fan catch a foul ball in the upper deck (the highest seat is only 88 feet from the field).
What else was cool? Statues of Pirates greats lined the lobbies. It made any baseball fan feel like they were walking through Minas Tirith. Getting to see pitch details beyond the speed was a nice touch, too. Did I mention the free wireless? It’s definitely something I wish was available in the other ballparks I more often visit, however, the signal strength offered both by the city and by PNC were, sadly, too weak to use.
The Hall of Fame Club, a sports bar located by left field, was nice in that it was open to any ticket holders throughout the game. Unlike some other ballparks, you’re not paying a premium cover for a mediocre view.
So what did I think could be improved? As I said, a stronger wireless signal would be nice (though at least it’s not the AT&T dead zone at Oriole Park!). Also, where was the beer selection? I like Yuengling, but was surprised I couldn’t find local beers like Iron City or Rolling Rock (ew, did I just say that?).
Lastly, I was surprised at how there was no visible presence of the overall MLB standings in the ballpark. Many parks accomplish this by flags, though the flags at PNC only duplicated the championship years visible on the press box behind us.
I really can’t complain, though, and neither should any Pittsburgher–PNC is probably the most intimate baseball experience in the majors besides Fenway.