What I Love About PNC Park
According to Trip Advisor, the best major league ballpark in the country is PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In my limited and biased opinion, I'd have to agree. Everything about the construction, atmosphere, and events that take place in and around the ballpark help it to earn this spot. Here are some of the things that I love most about PNC Park.
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 usually closed to vehicle traffic on game days, creating a massive walking bridge that fans travel over to enter the ballpark.
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 may be taken aback by his blunt and sometimes insulting shout outs, but I’d miss him if he wasn’t around.
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. The scale of these massive figures highlight just how much we look up to our past baseball heroes.
The Gateway Clipper
Even if your seats are on the first 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 sightseeing attraction. One boat can be taken directly to to the stadium. Another from the fleet is sure to pass by at least once during the game to blow their horn at the crowd inside.
In terms of the view from the inside, the large opening in the outfield makes for an excellent opportunity for players to literally hit one out of the park and into the river. Canoers and boaters regularly float 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. When it does bounce off the sidewalk and into the water, those nearby will jump into the water to snag a souvenir.
You’ve got your Cheese Chester, Sauerkraut Saul, Jalapeno Hannah, Bacon Burt, Potato Pete, Pizza Penny, 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 and watching them take off.
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. Despite that, the food lines are long, and fans tend to load up on chicken, burgers, hot dogs, french fries, and ice cream throughout the course of the game.
In between inning breaks, the stadium keeps the fans entertained with various games. There are trivia games, spot the Chick-Fil-A Cow in the seats, races between a fan and a player, and the Mario challenge against the LED scoreboard. It's fun to play along with fans who volunteer to exert or embarrass themselves onscreen while the pitchers warm up for the next half of the inning.
The Pirates Players
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. The Pirates will always be my team, no matter what their record is, and it's nice to know that I have a place to go and visit them throughout the course of the season.