Pittsburgh, the Steel City.
One of the most blue collar places on the planet, home of the hardest hitting football team, and the Stanley Cup winning Penguins. With two championships this year, Pittsburgh is arguably one of the best sports cities in the country. As their motto goes "Ice or Grass, we'll kick your ass".
The sport that has recently been left out of the winning is baseball. The Pirates have been the hitting post of the NL Central, and although they are playing decent ball this year, they are perennial losers.
The Pirates are an easy team to overlook, but their stadium is not.
PNC Park opened in 2001, and was showcased when it hosted the All Star game in 2006. With the Pirates playing in very few nationally televised games, PNC Park has been the most overlooked ball park in baseball.
As a baseball fan who has already been to Tampa, both Yankee stadiums and Citi Field in New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Montreal, I was looking forward to see if Pittsburgh had a great stadium of their own.
The Pirates boast a very fan-friendly atmosphere with very nice ushers and concession workers. Speaking of the concessions, there were more food stands than I have ever seen at a stadium. It felt like that Lewis Black "Starbucks" joke, I turned around from a hot dog stand and saw another one across from it.
PNC has what could be the best view in baseball. I had a seat for twenty seven dollars which put me about thirty rows behind home plate. Those same seats in Yankee Stadium go for over 300 bucks. Going to a game with a 7:05 p.m. start gave me a chance to see that view during the day and night, with each being equally as good.
Although the baseball team hasn't won, the fans in the city still support the team, with tons of people wearing Pirates gear. The game I went to was a near sell out, but I was told by a local that it was only because it was fireworks night.
They shut down a couple of city blocks, including the famous yellow bridge that is directly behind the center field wall, just so people could walk to a game. With my hotel being only a couple of blocks away, I took full advantage of the walk.
The only negative I could find was the lack of vendors in the crowd. I only saw a couple of vendors for beer and soda, but no food in my section, which probably sat a couple hundred of people.
I attribute this to the above average crowd, but it is still something the Pirate organization should be prepared for. It really wasn't a big deal, and maybe the fans there are used to it. I suppose not every stadium is run the same way.
PNC Park offers a small-time feel in a big city. It has beautiful views, a great river walk, plenty of vendors, and just an all around great atmosphere. Once the Pirates get back on the map, their stadium will as well. Until then, it will be a diamond in the rough.
For pictures of PNC Park visit:
www.smokingwithhank.wordpress.com (pictures will be up within a couple of days)
If anybody has been to PNC please leave a comment about your experience.