Home of the National League's Pittsburgh Pirates since 2001, PNC Park is a baseball-only facility located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Situated adjacent to the Allegheny River, most of PNC's seats offer a view of downtown Pittsburgh across the river. The park is built near the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, which merge to form the Ohio River. The stadium stands next to the Sixth Street Bridge (renamed the Roberto Clemente Bridge), which offers locals access to the downtown Pittsburgh area.
PNC Park was designed by HOK Inc of Kansas City, architects of many of the modern ballparks. Unlike most three-tiered stadiums, PNC was configured with only two decks, leaving it with a relatively low seating capacity of 38,362. However, the less expensive seats situated in the upper deck offer patrons a relatively close view of the action. The on-field distance to each foul line is relatively short - 325 feet to the left field corner and a mere 320 feet down the right field line. The power alleys, though, are a more expansive 389 feet in left center and 375 feet to right center, with the wall in straightaway center standing 399 feet from home plate. There is also a "nook" just left of center field that represents, at 410 feet, the deepest part of the ballpark. The right field seats provide a nearby view of the Allegheny River, which runs behind the stadium, while the left field stands sit behind a wall just six feet high, giving spectators the feeling that they are involved in the action.
PNC Park opened in 2001, with the first game featuring an April 9th matchup against the Cincinnati Reds. Barry Larkin led off against Todd Ritchie. The Pirates have yet to post a winning season while playing in PNC, resulting in relatively poor attendance thus far.
The park is quite attractive, with its vistas of the city and the river, and its nice architectural touches. PNC also offers fans a wide variety of food choices. Longtime Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen operates a barbecue stand in center field, and he often makes himself available to sign autographs for patrons before, after, and even during games. As is the case with many new parks, PNC invites several popular local restaurants onto its premises.
In Pittsburgh, that means Primanti Bros. The Primanti sandwich is legendary in the city of Three Rivers. Known for offering an egg as a sandwich topping, it also is famous for the manner in which it presents its side offerings: when french fries or cole slaw is ordered, it is served right on the sandwich rather than in separate containers, or on the side.
Situated in the same area as Primanti Bros on the first base side of the main concourse are other local favorites such as Quaker Steak and Lube, Benkovitz Fish, and a collection called Beers of the Burgh. Other concessions offer more standard ballpark fare such as hot dogs, hamburgers, and nachos. The Pirates also sell “All you can eat seats,” which are priced at $35 and are located in the right field bleachers. Patrons in this section can choose any four items at a time throughout the entire game from among the following: hot dogs, burgers, nachos, pretzels, ice cream sandwiches, and sodas. The AYCE seats are particularly popular with families with hungry children.
The stadium is surrounded by numerous parking lots and nearby parking garages. Additional parking is available downtown just across the river for night games and weekends, when most downtown businesses are closed. The only times parking becomes a problem are those rare occasions when the stadium is near capacity, or those instances when the Steelers have a game scheduled for the same time. However, the schedule-makers try to avoid such situations since the two stadiums are stituated just a few hundred yards apart.
In PNC Park, Pittsburgh has what may be the finest baseball facility in the country. Some day, the city may also have a team that does it justice. The bronze statues of Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Stargell located outside the park will be ready to welcome a new generation of greats.
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