What I Love About PNC Park
Baseball season is officially here, and I’m proud to say that I live in the city that has the greatest Major League ballpark in the country (according to Trip Advisor), PNC Park. I’ve been to the park about a dozen times, and if you’re ever privileged enough to come to this stadium. Here are some of the park’s best features:
- The Roberto Clemente Bridge – Parking is limited (and expensive) at the park, but an alternative route is a better route. Fans parking in town can cross the Allegheny River over the Roberto Clemente bridge to get to the North Shore of Pittsburgh. Here, you’re going to see a great view of the skyscrapers from the ground level behind you and a clear shot of the stadium ahead of you. The bridge is closed to vehicle traffic on game days, creating a massive walking bridge where fans gather together to enter the ball park.
- The Saxophone Man – Halfway through your trip across the bridge, you’ll hear saxophone music playing nearby. Standing on the concrete divider between lanes, you’ll find Reggie Howsie, The Sax Man. Between songs, this guy will both heckle and rev up the passing crowd, and of course, you can feel free to throw some loose change into his saxophone case. Some people aren’t too keen on his regular insults, but I’d miss him if he wasn’t around.
- The Statues – Before you walk through security, it’s customary (for first timers especially) to take your picture in front of the giant statues of Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski. Pint-sized fans can run through these heroes’ legs while even the tallest spectators will have to tip their caps to peer up that their legendary faces.
- Watching The Gateway Clipper Dock – Even if your seats are on the third base side, it’s worth it to walk over to the opposite end of the stadium (especially if you get there early and have some time to kill) and watch The Gateway Clipper drop off fans. The Gateway Clipper Fleet river tours are a Pittsburgh favorite, and one of their fleet is sure to pass by at least once during the game to blow their horn at the crowd inside.
- The Smells – From BBQ to Primanti Brothers Sandwiches and chicken wings, you’ll be waving your money at the food vendors before you even take your seat. It’s like a giant barbecue inside with the smell of smoking meat, popcorn and cotton candy. Despite this mix of food smells, though, there is also still that new stadium smell (much like new car smell) permeating the air.
- The Skyline – Once you take your seat, nearly every spectator has a wide view of the city skyline across the river. The framing of this view by L.D. Astorino (http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/pit/ballpark/information/index.jsp?content=facts) was an ingenious move that other stadiums can only dream of having.
- River Balls – Speaking of the picturesque window view, this makes for an excellent opportunity for players to literally hit one out of the park and into the river. Canoers and boaters regularly park in the water outside of the stadium just to get a shot at catching a coveted home run ball which is rare but possible with every at bat (by the Pirates, of course).
- Pierogi Races – You’ve got your Cheese Chester, Sauerkraut Saul, Jalapeno Hannah and Oliver Onion, and during the fifth inning, you’re going to see these costumed characters compete in a foot race around the back of the field, sometimes hitting and tripping each other in the process, much to the crowd’s delight. Many teams have these races, but only Pittsburgh would think of putting legs on pierogies.
- Bring Your Own Snacks – PNC Park doesn’t make you pay their extravagant rates for all of that food that beckoned to you on your way to your section. They actually allow you to bring your own snacks and even bottled water. To be fair, most stadiums do allow food into their parks, but I’m glad to say that PNC Park is one of them.
- The Pirates Play There!- When it all comes down to it, the purpose of the trip to the ballpark is to see a ball game surrounded by 30,000 fans, clapping, chanting and cheering for their favorite team. Anyone can enjoy the bells and whistles, but it’s the true fans who come for the baseball.
Wherever you watch the game, have fun this baseball season, and be sure to check out PNC Park if you’re ever in town!