Ballpark Review: PNC Park

Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates

Year Opened: 2001

Capacity: 38,362

Games Attended: September 16 & 17 2015 v Chicago Cubs

Sec 119, Row B and Sec 317, Row J

Anyone who loves ballparks will tell you PNC Park is considered the holy grail of baseball stadiums. It routinely ranks at the top of ballpark rankings. A quick google image search will reveal hundreds of breathtaking photos with the skyline in the backdrop. So PNC Park certainly was the most hyped up and anticipated park I have made it to- and it certainly lived up to the hype.

1) Aesthetics- 23/25

Exterior- 4/5

Unlike most other modern parks, PNC did not go with the red brick exterior. However, the exterior still has a smooth, clean design. And to me, it conjures up images of a castle which I like.

Interior- 9/10

My words can do no justice for how amazing PNC Park is so I will just rattle off some of the great features of this park. The video board in left, the batters eye in center with “Pirates” sculpted in the shrubbery, the 21 foot out-of-town scoreboard in right that honors Roberto Clemente, the drinking patio in left, the green fence with blue seats that honor Forbes Field, and the mini facade in the upper deck.

Backdrop- 10/10

The bridge. The river. The skyline. Wow.

2) Seats & View- 17/20

Sight lines- 9/10

Not only does PNC provide amazing views, but the seats are built so you can actually get the most out of these views! Even when sitting up close there is no lack of angle that hurts perception on reading fly balls to the outfield. Seats are also angled down the line to face back in towards the infield which is always a good thing. You won’t have to worry about weird seat angles, overhangs, support beams, or anything else in that nature.

Proximity- 5/5

PNC Park is built so they have the closest seats in baseball. Home plate seemingly runs right up to the fence. Moreover, there are essentially just two levels, so the “upper deck” really isn’t an upper deck at all. And the rows in the second level do not climb up forever as they do at other parks.

Comfort- 3/5

I felt fine, but the comfort of the seats was simply average. There wasn’t a ton of leg room or side-to-side room. It was what you would expect.

3) Atmosphere- 11/15

Fan Participation- 5/5

MLB needs Pittsburgh to be good because this city is a legit baseball town. 90 loss seasons will hurt anyone’s attendance, but now that the team is a contender again, PNC is a boisterous place. Both games were loud, with fans involved on every pitch and waving their pirate flags all over the stadium. It was a ton of fun to experience the PNC crowds.

Attendance- 4/5

Not a perfect score because their attendance still sits at 75-80%, but both games I attended were pretty packed.

Fan Knowledge- 2/5

I only did not give a 1 as a benefit of the doubt to all other Pirates fans. For both games I was stuck behind the dumbest fans of all-time. One guy thought Jake Arrieta, with his 96mph fastball moving 5-10 inches, was throwing a straight fastball any A ball player can hit- and he would not shut up about it. The next day one guy wanted to know why Jordy Mercer was batting fourth and was going in on Clint Hurdle. He must have forgot Kang was hurt and replaced by Mercer not 10 minutes before. Both fans claimed to be ticket holders who have been coming out to games for years.

4) Attractions- 12/20

Museum & Team History- 6/10

The only thing that would have made this park perfect was more attention to their storied history. The Pirates have been around since the 19th century, played in the first World Series, have won several championships, and has been the home of several Hall of Fame players. Yet there is no team museum and the retired numbers are tough to locate in the stadium. The one redeeming quality are the four statues on the outside corners of the park- Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Honus Wagner, and Willie Stargell. And there are banners in left field honoring Negro League players who played in Pittsburgh.

The one explanation for not having a team museum of their own is that the Heinz Museum across the river has an entire room dedicated to baseball history Pittsburgh. Still, it would have been better if PNC had their own.

Things to See & Do- 6/10

The Pirates had one of the larger team stores I’ve seen with a good selection of products. The center and right field concourse is also cool because it’s open and has a great view of downtown Pittsburgh, as well as a picnic area. The Pirates have a couple bars/restaurants on multiple levels of the stadium. Overall though, there isn’t much to do other than take in the beauty of the park and take a ton of photos. If you have time- visit Heinz Field which is next door.

5) Food & Drink- 10/10

Hot Dog- 4/5

I got a special dog with BBQ sauce, mustard, ketchup, and onions. Damn it was good. Only downer was that the dog was so big so the bun fell apart.

Best of the Rest- 5/5

I got the special Pirates craft beer and it was really good. If you don’t want the Pirates special brew, there are more than enough craft brews to choose from. They also had wings, Primanti Bros, gyros, burgers, and more. Everything smelled and looked amazing- for an affordable price!

Bonus- Pirogis!

6) Game Entertainment/Presentation- 4/5

PNC Park has one of only three mascot races worthy of excitement- the Pirogi race. As for the rest of their entertainment, it’s nothing special but they do get bonus points for trying to do different “games” and cams than other parks. For example, one game was designed for a person to do a physical activity to win a prize.

7) Cleanliness- 4/5

It was a clean park. It’s 14 years old now so it’s not in mint condition, but clean is clean.

8) Local Scene & Location- 5/5

It’s tough to beat the scene in the Pittsburgh. One- it’s right across the river from downtown. Even if you cross the bridge back over, there will be food shops open and it’s only a short walk to the Strip District where there are bars galore. If you stay on the stadium side, you will also find eateries and bars nearby. Other attractions include Heinz Field, Mount Washington, Heinz Museum, Art Museum, and more.

9) Access & Cost- 4.5/5

PNC, for how amazing it is, has to be the most valuable stadium in baseball. Tickets, even my first level row B tickets, were cheap. The food and drinks are cheap (for stadiums). With a winning team and fantastic park they can easily charge more which made it so surprising that I could get amazing seats for under $50.

As for access, if you plan on walking from nearby then you get the honor of walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The bridge is closed off on game days, allowing fans to walk to and from the stadium for games. However, full points are not given due to traffic. I didn’t drive to the games, but traffic in Pittsburgh is terrible so I’d imagine this stadium isn’t as accessible by way of car. However, it seemed like most people walked and I would recommend it just to walk across the bridge and get that view.

10) Misc- 3

Out-of-Town Scoreboard- 1

PNC has my favorite out-of-town board in baseball- and the fact it’s 21 feet high in honor of Roberto Clemente is just icing on the cake.

Stats & Info- 1

The scoreboard did a tremendous job providing useful stats. What separates PNC from all other parks I have been to is the pitch f/x data. Yes, you heard that right. Along with velocity and pitch count, PNC shows you the horizontal and vertical break of a pitch.

Concourse- 1

11) Personal Opinion- 5/5

Public Enemy once said “don’t believe the hype”. When it comes to PNC Park, that is most definitely false. PNC Park is worth the hype and then some. It has the best backdrop, views, food, and stats/info of any park I have been to. It is without a doubt the #1 park in baseball.

Overall Score- 98.5/115

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