PNC Park: Roadtrip Report and day 2 photos
PNC PARK: the review
This ballpark has been at the top of TBF’s out of town park visits wishlist since it opened. It was pure coincidence, mixed with boredom and a paycheck rich with overtime hours that sent us to Pittsburgh this particular weekend.
TICKETS: The Pirates have a ticket resale option for season ticket holders, but since Pennsylvania law prohibits selling at any kind of markup, there isn’t a lot of inventory. We did, however, get great behind-the-dugout seats that way. There was a reasonable selection on eBay as well, and we bought front row outfield seats from a season ticket holder. If it hadn’t been the Mets, I understand it wouldn’t be that hard to get a ticket. Besides the Mets, the big competition this weekend was Jack Wilson bobblehead night (EVERYONE gets a bobblehead! Everyone! Even people showing up at 8pm!) and Pirate Parrot Build-A-Bear day on Sunday, both of which would have drawn a big crowd even if the Mets weren’t expected to clinch.
FOOD: TBF has been salivating over the concept of Outback in the Outfield for as long as I have talked to him about baseball. That said, it’s $150 for a table for four, without the food. We had planned on takeout, since they do advertise Outback at your seat, but all you can get is a hamburger, cheese fries, and a blooming onion. Instead we opted for the onion to go with excellent barbeque from Manny’s BBQ, the purview of former Pirates pitcher Manny Sanguillen, who does indeed preside over the area and signs autographs. I opted for a handshake and a sweet inquiry if he would let a Mets fan eat his food.
Sunday we opted for the famous sandwiches from Primanti’s, which I have known about since the last time I was in Pittsburgh and friends who were locals took me there after a concert. They might be slightly bigger at the actual restaurant, but they were fresh and delicious. The guy in front of us in line was ordering sandwiches for Gary and Keith. It wasn’t until we got back that we heard that this had been a big on-air thing.
THINGS YOU WOULD NEVER HEAR AT SHEA STADIUM:
“Yuengling! Cold Yuengling!”
The only other food item we consumed were two Lemon Chills on Sunday, which were 75 cents cheaper than Shea, as well as BIGGER than their Shea counterparts. They also had strawberry flavored. This is our #1 food consumed at the ballpark so it was a big deal.
No food allowed into the park, and you’re technically only allowed one sealed bottle of water no larger than 24 ounces. Our liter bottle got a little bit of hassle the first night, but security waived it since it was sealed. On Sunday, no one ever looked at us sideways.
THE PARK: This is a real city ballpark with a view of downtown that’s absolutely stunning. You can see it from everywhere, not just the cheap seats or the good seats. They could have built another level of bleachers in the outfield, but it would have blocked the view. No matter how nice the New Shea is going to be, it’s still going to be a suburban ballpark.
ACCESS: Park for $5 downtown and walk across the Roberto Clemente bridge. We didn’t have any trouble parking at the lot closest to the bridge, but we also got there 2+ hours beforehand. There’s a Starbucks and a 7-11 one block away from the bridge.
BULLPENS are easily viewed from ramps near the outfield.
BATTING PRACTICE: we got anywhere we wanted to before the game, except for the $200 seats, which are a very small section behind home plate. The outfield gate opens half an hour before the other gates do, and if your tickets are season tickets, you can get down into the lower seating bowl before anyone else does. Very sweet deal that got us in prime location for BP on Saturday.
MASCOT REPORT: There is the Pirate Parrot, who reminds me of the Philly Phanatic (the same shape, I guess), but who is very acrobatic, does backflips, dances around a lot. There is also an actual Pirate. I thought the Parrot was a reasonable mascot, and appreciated its trash talking (as it were) on Sunday, when they were on top of the Mets dugout, took a hat off of a fan down front, made rude gestures at the hat, and then wiped it on its parrot behind.
PARK TRADITIONS: the pierogie races are l-a-m-e. They are somewhat like the Cascarino’s Race to Shea, in that most of the race takes place on the screen – and then they cut to the park and run from the left outfield corner to the finish line at first base. Majorly unimpressed. I did not purchase pierogie dolls.
The whole pirate thing gets to be a little over the top at some points. There’s a Diamondvision pirate narrator all full of ‘avasts’ and ‘matey’s and ‘arrrghghgs’ which got really old by the second day. I could not imagine seeing that every time I went to the ballpark. The Pirates are referred to as the ‘Bucs’ (short for ‘buccaneers’) and everything is ‘bucco’ this and ‘bucco’ that, the homerun count is a ‘bucco blast.” A little too Disney for me.
That said, I would have expected to see a lot more skull and crossbones flags in the bleachers and around the park. You can get one on ebay for about $6 including shipping (I know, because I got one for my nephew’s recent birthday). Kind of lame.
“It’s time to shoot some hot dogs, it’s time to shoot some hot dogs, it’s time to shoot some hot dogs – and catch yourself some meat.” Yes, the infamous PNC Park hot dog guns are true. This could not EVER happen at Shea because some drunk morons in the upper deck would make lewd comments about catching meat.
Wait, no – THIS COULD NOT EVER HAPPEN AT SHEA BECAUSE IT’S TOTALLY MORONIC.
Who would EAT a food item that had been SHOT at them? Clearly, people do, because they clamor to catch them.
The pre-game warmup animation isn’t of the actual team, but shows animated pirate ships firing at each other. You see the Pirates’ ship taking down the Cubs and the Reds and the Cardinals, and then when they’ve sunk everyone else, aiming for the visiting team’s ship. This would all be very inspiring if one couldn’t turn one’s head and see the playoff pennants from 1909.
TBF and I both really appreciated that the seat upgrade promotion took place BEFORE the game started, and you were moved to prime box seats.
FANS: I was favorably impressed. They had spirit and attitude, but weren’t assholes. TBF manages to always attract the old-time baseball folks in a park, whether it’s the ushers or the concession vendors and those people treated us with warmth and good hospitality. Even the guy at the box office on Sunday who, with a straight face, informed me that there were problems with our tickets – and right before I had a heart attack, continued with “Yes, we can’t let Mets fans sit that close to the field,” before handing us the tickets with a genuine wish to enjoy ourselves. They’re proud of their baseball stadium, and they should be.
They even brought brooms en masse on Sunday. Hey, I would’ve too.
WALK ON MUSIC: Jack Wilson uses “Jumping Jack Flash.” Someone else uses “Mother” by Danzig. There were one or two reggaeton songs. Xavier Nady is still using “X” by Xzibit. Other than that, nothing that notable. They did use “Worldwide Suicide” by Pearl Jam during the t-shirt toss Saturday night.