Ballpark Roadtrip: PNC Park

PNC Park, which opened in spring 2001, is a classic-style ballpark, an intimate facility that embraces the progressiveness of Pittsburgh while saluting the spirit of early ballpark originals such as Forbes Field, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. It is the fifth home of the Pittsburgh Pirates since their inception in 1887.

This riverfront facility combines the best features of yesterday’s ballparks – rhythmic archways, steel trusswork and a natural grass playing field – with the latest in fan and player amenities and comfort.

PNC Park is the first ballpark with a two-deck design to be built in the United States since Milwaukee’s County Stadium was completed in 1953. Because of its intimate design, the highest seat is just 88 feet from the field, giving every fan in the park an ideal sight line.

PNC Park is approachable and pedestrian in scale. Designed to fit within the existing city grid, it is also orientated to allow a great majority of spectators a spectacular view of the Clemente Bridge and the downtown skyline beyond.

The home of the Pirates is instantly recognizable as a ballpark, with architectural flourishes of Forbes Field lending a touch of nostalgia. The series of masonry archways extending along the entry level facade and decorative terra cotta tiled pilasters exude the charm of the club’s former home of 61 years.

PNC Park, which opened on April 9, 2001, is the fifth home of the Pittsburgh Pirates since their inception in 1887.

The fledgling National League franchise first began play at Recreation Park, located at the corners of Grant and Pennsylvania Avenues along the Fort Wayne railroad tracks on the North Side. The club then moved to Exposition Park in 1891, which was situated along the Allegheny River between the PNC Park site and where Three Rivers Stadium formerly stood.

After 18 years at Exposition, including hosting the first World Series in 1903, the Bucs moved to Forbes Field in Oakland on June 30, 1909. The club spent 61 seasons at Forbes, its longest tenure at any facility, before returning to the North Shore with a move to Three Rivers Stadium on July 16, 1970.

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Ballpark: A – Amazing ballpark and views of the game and downtown. A must see road trip for all fans. Small and intimate ballpark, only seats 38,362 fans. Have attended two Sky Blast Nights with live concerts and fireworks on the Allegheny River. Stadium is packed those nights because there is nothing really to do in Pittsburgh as some fans disclosed. Been there three times and drag people to check out best park in the game.

Fans & Atmosphere: A – Team has struggled since the departure of Barry Bonds after the 1992 season and not had a record over .500 since. Nice batch of young talent my change fortunes. People love the ballpark, the surrounding area filled with bars and restaurants.

Food: A – Food was excellent. Not for people with heart conditions. Chicken Wings and french fries are on the money. Amazing sandwiches. Former star Manny Sanguillen currently operates “Manny’s BBQ”, a barbecue-style concession stand at the Pirates’ current home, PNC Park. He sits in a chair greeting fans in line to buy food, signing autographs and posing for photos.

Mascot: A – The Parrot entertains fans in between innings with his antics abusing staff. The Great Pierogie Race with Potato Pete (blue hat), Jalapeño Hannah (green hat), Cheese Chester (yellow hat), Sauerkraut Saul (red hat), Oliver Onion (purple hat), and Bacon Burt (orange hat). Getting hungry? The Pirate just walks around with a sword, stabbing pirogues.

Staff: A – Ushers were courteous every time I have gone. Security at gates are kind. Some of the food stand workers are grumpy but the most part pleasant.

Team Tradition: A – Stadium displays the team’s long history as well as stars from the Homestead Grays. Forbes Field artifacts and statues of past stars like Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski. Current park is built near two previous homes, Three Rivers Stadium and Exposition Park.

Location: A – Downtown Pittsburgh, a short walk from the hotel across the river to stadium. Some streets can be frightening after late night games. Players from opposing team sometime walk to park from hotel.

Photos taken August 8, 2009 and June 13, 2011 using a Canon EOS Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and 50D Digital SLR with a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens.

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