Nestled along the banks of the Allegheny River, with the Roberto Clemente Bridge and Pittsburgh skyline in the background, PNC Park is one of the most beautiful ballparks in baseball. With one of the smallest seating capacities in baseball, there are no bad seats here. PNC Park is a drastic change from the Pirates former home Three Rivers Stadium. There were plenty of bad seats here and no views of the skyline, only of the multicolored seats surrounding the Astroturf playing field that the Pirates shared with the Steelers (NFL). Three Rivers Stadium opened in the early 1970s and was like every other multi-purpose stadium built at the time, a circular concrete structure with a massive amount of seats, most far away from the action on the field. In the 1990s Pirates ownership began to seek a new ballpark as the landscape of professional baseball changed and new ballparks provided teams with additional forms of revenue.
In 1991 Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff proposed a new 44,000 seat ballpark for the Pirates on the north side of the city near Three Rivers Stadium. This proposal went dormant as interest in the team waned after the Pirates went from a playoff team in the early 1990s to one of the worst teams in the league. The future of the club in Pittsburgh looked bleak in 1994 when the team put up for sale and relocation was a real possibility. However, Kevin McClatchy purchased the Pirates and worked with the city to have a new ballpark built. Initially dubbed Forbes Field II, the team began drawing plans for a new ballpark that would be similar to their home prior to Three Rivers Stadium, Forbes Field. Financing was approved for a $216 million ballpark, to be built adjacent to Three Rivers Stadium and in April 1999 construction began. The ballpark was named PNC Park after PNC Financial Services bought the naming rights in August 1998.
On April 9, 2001 the Pittsburgh Pirates played their first game at PNC Park against the Cincinnati Reds. Whether you stroll across the Roberto Clemente Bridge from downtown Pittsburgh entering the ballpark through the outfield entrances or enter at the homeplate entrance, PNC Park looks like a classic ballpark from a bygone era. The ballpark features a limestone facade with terra cotta tiled pilasters, dramatic masonry arches along the home plate entryway, and a flat green steel roof. Statues of Pirates Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell and Honus Wagner can be found outside PNC Park. Once inside fans must take stairs, ramps or the escalator to reach the main concourse and upper levels. However, after the upward trip, fans are greeted with perhaps the best view of any in MLB, a amazing view of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline.
AT PNC PARK
With a capacity of 38,362, PNC Park is one of baseball’s smallest ballparks. The main grandstand at PNC Park features two main seating decks that extend from the right field foul pole to homeplate and around to the left field foul pole. Club seats, located on the lower section of the upper deck; and the press box, located at the top of the upper deck, allow for the upper level seats to be much closer to the field. Luxury suites are wedged between the lower and upper decks. Fans can walk around the entire main concourse of the stadium without losing sight of the field or the Pittsburgh skyline. In the outfield, fans can sit in the section of bleachers in left field or sit in right field and try to catch a homerun ball. Fans can overlook the bullpens and catch an excellent view of the field from left centerfield. An out of town scoreboard is part of the 21 foot high right field fence, in honor of Roberto Clemente who wore number 21. A 42 ft. by 24 ft. scoreboard video board is located behind the bleachers in left field.
From the main grandstand at PNC Park, Pirate fans receive magnificent views of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline and the Roberto Clemente bridge. The light standards are toothbrush style and are patterned after the ones that were at Forbes Field. PNC Park has many amenities that could not be found at Three Rivers Stadium. They include a restaurant located above the left field bleachers with casual dining and a bar atmosphere with wait staff service for all fans, that overlooks both the playing field and the city. PNC Park has two elaborate food courts; Smorgasburgh that offers popular items from some of Western Pennsylvania’s favorite eateries and Pop’s Plaza (named in honor of Willie Stargell), that offers more traditional ballpark food. Other areas include shops along General Robison Street such as Diamond Pizza and Atria’s Restaurant, that are accessible from inside and outside PNC Park. The outer promenade at PNC Park known as the River Walk, gives fans views of the city, the river, and the field. Pirate fans can mingle, grab a bite to eat at Manny’s BBQ and watch the game in this area. Located in the right field corner is the Budweiser Bowtie Bar, a U-shaped bar where fans can enjoy an adult beverage, while checking out either the play on the field and the downtown skyline. Although many ballparks have opened since 2001, PNC Park remains the most stunning ballpark in baseball with its quaint setting and views of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline.