honus-wagnerPNC Park, the new home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, opened to rave reviews in 2001, and is still regarded as one of Major League Baseball’s premier fields. PNC is the fifth home of the Pirates. It combines the charm of Forbes Field, the team’s third home, with the scenic riverside location on the North Side of an even earlier venue, Exposition Park.

After touring all 30 major league ballparks, ESPN’s Eric Neel has ranked PNC Park as the best.

PNC Park is heralded for its classic architecture, natural grass surface, and excellent sight lines. An intimate setting with a seating capacity of approximately 39,000, PNC is the league’s second smallest field, and it definitely brings the game to the fan. The highest seat is only 88 feet from the field, and there isn’t a bad seat in the park. The deepest part of the park is in Left Center at 410 feet.

The shortest distance from home plate to the Allegheny River is only 456ft. In 2006, PNC Park hosted the 2006 All-Star Game. During the Homerun Derby, five different balls were hit out of the park and made a splash landing in the Allegheny River. Daryle Ward of the Houston Astros was the first player to hit a ball into the river during a regular season game on July 6, 2002. In addition to views of the river, the grandstand offers fans a stunning sight of Pittsburgh’s glittering skyline and the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

The Best Ballpark in America

roberto-clemente-statueWhile PNC Park is a “field of dreams” for baseball enthusiasts, you don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy the amenities of this park. Everything is state-of-the art, yet doesn’t seem sterile. An interactive, one-of-a-kind tour, entitled “The Best Ballpark in America,” gives fans an insight into this remarkable sports venue. The tours are available from April through September, Monday-Friday at 10 a.m. and noon when the Pirates play an evening game.

Concessions offer something to appeal to every taste, from legendary Primanti Brother’s sandwiches to wings from Quaker Steak and Lube. Bucaroos offers a menu that caters to children, and of course, it wouldn’t be a baseball game without peanuts and Cracker Jack. PNC’s “All You Can Eat Seats” allow fans to munch their way through the innings. For those who like to sit back, have a beer and enjoy the game, PNC Park offers numerous beers from national brands on tap to local craft brews.

PNC Park was designed to meet the needs of its visitors. It is one of the most accommodating for disabled visitors, offering everything from drop-off zones to assisted listening devices.

Rambunctious children can work off a little energy at the Kids Play Land located near the Right Field Gate. The play area features a miniature replica PNC Park and a multi-purpose play set. Parents anxious about losing a child in the crowd may obtain free ID bracelets that are personalized with the child’s name and seat location. On select Sundays, children 14 and under are offered the opportunity to run the bases. Family restrooms are also situated throughout the park.

Each Home Game is a Fiesta

bill_mazeroski-statueThe fun isn’t limited to inside PNC Park. Each home game is a fiesta. The streets surrounding the park are filled with fans, music and children’s activities. The Roberto Clemente Bridge, which connects downtown Pittsburgh to the North Side right outside of PNC Park, is closed to vehicular traffic on game days, allowing pedestrians to walk to the park.

Statues of Pirate Hall of Famers surround PNC Park. Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and Bill Mazeroski have all been immortalized. The beautifully landscaped Riverwalk along the Allegheny River connects PNC Park with Heinz Field, The Rivers Casino and Carnegie Science Center, and offers strollers a delightful view of Pittsburgh’s three rivers and the downtown area. The Riverfront Park waterfall will entice even the most staid visitor to kick off the shoes and dip their toes in the cool waters. Since the construction of PNC Park, numerous restaurants, pubs, and hotels have arisen around it, making PNC Park and the surrounding area an entertainment center par excellence. Even getting to the park is fun. It is easily accessible by car, by foot or by boat.

willie_stargell-statueThe Gateway Clipper Fleet provides a shuttle to the game. It leaves from its Station Square dock and drops off fans outside PNC Park, then shuttles them back to Station Square after the game.

Of course Pirates fan love their home park, but fans from around the country also extol PNC Park’s virtues. Many rival fans flock to PNC Park to take in a road game when their favorite team plays the Pirates. The ticket prices are reasonable, the fans are accommodating to the visitors, and the area is a baseball fan’s paradise. Across the Internet, numerous websites hosted by devoted baseball enthusiasts from St. Louis to San Diego detail what a delight a road trip to PNC Park is for visiting teams and fans. PNC Park is within a day’s drive for several major league cities like Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Toronto, and New York.

Whether you are a Pirates fan or not, you will be a fan of PNC Park. This magnificent baseball park is worth a road trip whether you are coming from the Pittsburgh area or from across the country.

By Janice Palko