View of the field from the Upper Level at PNC Park.

Our staff made the trip to PNC Park during the 2014 MLB season to see the Pittsburgh Pirates face off against the New York Mets and the trip was everything we could have hoped for it to be. What a ballpark! It’s common knowledge that PNC Park is arguably the most beautiful ballpark in professional baseball and it’s definitely the best we’ve seen in person of the 8 Major League ballparks we’ve visited. So what’s so great about it?

 

The scenery, for one. The city of Pittsburgh is uniquely situated on three rivers; the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela. PNC Park and Heinz Field (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers) are both situated on the Allegheny River just west of the downtown district. The outfield has the beautiful downtown Pittsburgh skyline as the backdrop; perhaps its most notable feature. If you have an upper level seat, you’ll be able to see parts of the Allegheny River sitting down. Also visible from most seats is the yellow Roberto Clemente Bridge which is blocked off for fans to travel before and after Pirates games. The walk to the game on the bridge is a fun one to make; very similar to the bridge outside of Nissan Stadium; home of the Tennessee Titans. On the bridge will be a ton of vendors selling food and Pirates merchandise.

 Photo of the Roberto Clemente Bridge at PNC Park.

There is also a neat little river walk just outside of the ballpark and it extends all the way down to Heinz Field. There will be a number of motorboats that will pull up and dock right next to the ballpark with fans aboard; something you could probably only see at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Photo of PNC Park from the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, PA.

The seats are all colored black which goes well with the team’s persona. What fans seem to appreciate the most is that there are only two levels of seats at PNC Park; a lower level and an upper level. This equates to a sense of closeness to the playing field from virtually every seat. PNC Park is one of the smaller ballparks in Major League Baseball. The most unique seats in the ballpark are in the outfield next to the right field foul pole. They sit atop the “Roberto Clemente Wall” which stands 21 feet high, paying tribute to Clemente’s number 21. Below the wall is an out of town scoreboard with real time updates of that night’s Major League Baseball scores.

The Roberto Clemente Statue at PNC Park.

The concourses are wide and easy to navigate. There is an escalator that takes fans up to the lower level at the stadium’s main gate which was a nice touch but it creates long lines. When entering, an usher will hand you a complimentary game program; the classic ballpark souvenir! There are a number of statues of former Pirates players on site; with the best being the massive Roberto Clemente statue next to the outfield gate. It’s one of the best photo opportunities at PNC Park. Next to the Willie Stargell statue and left field entrance is the Pirates pro shop. They have a huge selection of Pirates items and novelties but it’s not as extensive of a team shop as I’ve seen in other MLB ballparks.

PNC Park has an excellent variety of stadium fare, however. Some of the best can be found in Pop’s Plaza next to sections 129-131 in the left field area. They’ll have plenty of tables to sit and enjoy your food in the area. Try the crab fries from Chickie’s and Pete’s, a Philadelphia food chain. Former Pirate Manny Sanguillen has his own BBQ concession in the outfield. We didn’t get to sample it but we did see Manny signing autographs for fans; a common occurrence from what we’ve been told.

 Photo of a Primanti Brothers Sandwich.

If you’re in the mood for something local, look no further than “Primanti Brothers” (outside of section 110). Primanti Brothers puts their fries on their sandwiches. Their signature sandwich is “The Pitts-Burger”. The original Primanti Brothers restaurant is in Pittsburgh’s Strip District downtown. We paid a visit there too and they have excellent pub food and beers. However, I found it odd and incredibly inconvenient that they only accepted cash and no credit cards at the restaurant. There was also a self-service frozen yogurt stand called “Sincerely Yogurt” near section 107. It was every bit as good as the frozen yogurt at Orange Leaf.

Pittsburgh is a very walkable city, so if you’re staying at a downtown hotel, walking to the stadium will be a breeze unless you’re staying on the South Shore, where we stayed. Instead of utilizing Uber or a Taxi service, we took the famous “Gateway Clipper” passenger boat and it was an excellent experience and will give you a perspective of downtown Pittsburgh that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. There are also free subway rides from downtown to the ballpark but be prepared; it gets very crowded. If you’re staying at a hotel on the South Shore, make a point to ride either the Duquesne or Monongahela Inclines up to Mount Washington for a postcard view of downtown Pittsburgh below. It’s very cheap and will give you plenty of memories and photo opportunities.

View of Pittsburgh Skyline from PNC Park.

There are a few bars outside of the ballpark that fans will enjoy. The Jerome Bettis 36 Grille is awesome but also a little pricey. I would call it an upscale sports bar. The “Tilted Kilt” is a pub chain that’s in most large cities but they also have an excellent game day atmosphere and excellent beer selection. In regards to the best restaurant in the city, see if you can secure a reservation for “Meat and Potatoes” downtown on Penn Avenue. If you don’t have a reservation, you’re probably not going to get into this place; you’ve been warned.

Most importantly, PNC Park is one ballpark that should not be left off of your ballpark bucket list. It may not have the history that some of the other ballparks have but it makes up for it in beauty. And now that the franchise has been revived with a couple of postseason appearances, the fan atmosphere seems to only be getting better.  

 

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