Pittsburgh’s North Shore Gem: PNC Park
As the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, PNC Park stands as a testament to the timeless beauty of baseball and the enduring charm of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Sporting a breathtaking view of the city skyline and the shimmering waters of the Allegheny River, this baseball stadium exhibits a unique blend of vintage charm and modern amenities. The fifth home of the Pirates, PNC Park is not just a venue for baseball but an architectural marvel, a gathering place, and a symbol of Pittsburgh’s love for the sport.
A Peek into History
The story of PNC Park began in the early 1990s, when the Pirates’ future in Pittsburgh seemed uncertain. Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff proposed the construction of a new ballpark in 1991, but the idea did not make headway until Kevin McClatchy purchased the team in 1996 and expressed his commitment to the city. The plan for a new ballpark, initially dubbed ‘Forbes Field II’ in homage to the team’s previous home, began to take shape. After a series of discussions and public debates, funding for a $216 million ballpark was approved, and construction started in April 1999.
Constructed by the Dick Corporation and Barton Malow, PNC Park was designed by Kansas City-based architects Populous, who modeled their creation after the classic style ballparks like Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. It was the first two-deck ballpark to be built in the United States since Milwaukee County Stadium in 1953. The stadium was completed in a record 24 months, three months quicker than any other modern major league ballpark. The Pirates played their first game at the park on April 9, 2001, against the Cincinnati Reds.
A Walk Around the Park
Touched with a facade of limestone and crowned with a flat green steel roof, PNC Park is a sight to behold. The home plate entrance is marked by dramatic masonry arches, while terra cotta tiled pilasters add a vintage touch to the structure. Statues of Pirates’ Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and Bill Mazeroski greet visitors outside the stadium, standing as proud reminders of the team’s rich history.
Upon entering, you’ll find the main concourse, aptly named “Tastes of Pittsburgh,” offering a range of food options from traditional ballpark fare to hometown specialties and even sushi. The stadium’s seating capacity of 38,362 makes it one of the smallest in Major League Baseball, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in intimacy and charm. The seating is angled toward the field, and the aisles are lowered to give spectators improved views of the field. The highest seat in the stadium is 88 feet above the playing surface.
The Playing Field
The playing surface at PNC Park is a carefully chosen blend of Kentucky Bluegrass known as Tuckahoe Bluegrass. This high-quality grass is ideally suited for Northern cities like Pittsburgh. The infield dirt, a custom blend known as “Dura Edge Custom Pro Infield Mix,” was designed solely for PNC Park. The warning track, made of crushed lava rock, extends 18 feet from the outfield fence, which ranges in height from 6 feet in left field to 21 feet in right field. The varying fence height is a tribute to former Pirate right fielder Roberto Clemente, who wore number 21.
The dimensions of the field are carefully measured, with 320 feet from home plate to the right field foul pole, 399 feet to the straightaway center field, and 410 feet to left center. The outfield fence in right field hosts an out-of-town scoreboard, keeping fans updated about other games around the league.
The Game Day Experience
A game day at PNC Park is an unforgettable experience for any baseball fan. Whether you’re a lifelong Pirates supporter or a visiting spectator, the charm of this ballpark is sure to captivate you. From the moment you walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge from downtown Pittsburgh, the anticipation begins to build.
Once inside, you can enjoy a bite to eat at one of the many eateries, grab a drink at the Budweiser Bowtie Bar, or simply soak in the atmosphere from your seat. The stadium also features a children’s playground and a number of shops selling Pirates merchandise.
When the Pirates hit a home run, the park comes alive with cheering fans and the flashing lights of the scoreboard. The energy and excitement are palpable, making every game an event to remember.
The All-Star Stage
PNC Park got its chance to shine on the national stage when it hosted the 77th Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 11, 2006. The American League secured a victory against the National League with a score of 3-2, and the game was attended by 38,904 spectators. The event was a testament to the charm and beauty of PNC Park, earning it the reputation as one of the best baseball stadiums in America.
Concerts and Beyond
Beyond baseball, PNC Park has hosted a myriad of events, from concerts featuring international music stars like Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel to drills practicing evacuation in case of a terrorist attack. The park has been used as a location for several films, and an exhibit honoring Pittsburgh’s Negro league baseball teams was introduced in 2006.
Accessibility and Location
PNC Park is conveniently located at exit 1B of Interstate 279 and is within a mile of both Interstate 376 and Interstate 579. The park is also served by the North Side transit station of the Pittsburgh subway system (we call it “The T”), making it easily accessible for fans commuting from different parts of the city.
A Legacy in Limestone
From its inception, PNC Park has been more than just a baseball stadium. It is a symbol of the city’s love for the sport, a gathering place for the community, and a testament to the timeless beauty of baseball. The park’s blend of vintage charm and modern amenities, coupled with its stunning views of the Pittsburgh skyline, make it a must-visit destination for any baseball fan.
The journey of PNC Park, from its conception in the early 1990s to its present-day status as one of America’s finest ballparks, is a story of commitment, vision, and a deep love for the game of baseball. As the Pirates continue to carve their legacy on its lush green field, PNC Park stands as a beacon of Pittsburgh’s enduring charm and a testament to the timeless beauty of baseball.