Pittsburgh is my hockey home town – I try to see my Pittsburgh Penguins live at least a few times a season. The more, I am of course happy to be in Pittsburgh itself. During my last stay at the tri-river city, I managed to catch a stadium tour at PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Here is my review of looking behind the scenes at Pittsburgh’s local Major League Baseball team.
PNC Park – Location & Tour Admission
In contrast to PPG Paints Area (home of the Penguins, with is located in city center), the two other major sports arenas in Pittsburgh, the Heinz Field (Pittsburgh Steelers / American Football) and the PNC Park are located North of the Allegheny River. The Stadium Tour entrance is located at Federal Street, which is leading to Roberto Clemente Bridge, named after Pittsburgh’s most famous baseball player. Thus, Pittsburgh city center is in close walking distance. The Andy Warhol Museum is just a block a way. You can also take the Pittsburgh Light Railway to North Side. Light rail rides from city center are free. North Side features a lot of parking opportunities, which are very reasonable in pricing during non-event days.
In non-pandemic times, there are three tours daily on non-match days, at 10:00, 12:00 and 14:00 hrs. During the running season and on match days, some areas are restricted. The adult tour was 10 USD. I made the tour in December 2019, i.e. before any Covid-19 related restrictions. The duration of the tour was roughly 90 minutes.
PNC Park – The Tour
The Tour started at Center Field Gate and we made our way into the stadium. The scenery of PNC Park is amazing, as you always have a great view of the Pittsburgh skyline. The stadium itself is typical American Baseball architecture (means that it is not super-thrilling) with a capacity of a bit less than 40,000 people maximum attendance for baseball matches.
From the outfield seating, the tour headed down to the service ways of the stadium. There was also a lot of memorabilia when heading more and more towards the heart of the “Bucs” match day and training life.
In the training and management section, you could watch (and enjoy) the batting cage. At this part of the tour, we also visited the Pirates’ locker room. Players are not allowed to bring their cell phones in there – and indeed the tour asked us to leave all cameras and phones before entering the highlight of the tour. As you could not buy a fancy photo of you in the locker room thereafter, they really seem to do it due to tradition, not to ask you for a souvenir credit card swipe. This felt a bit of strange to me from an European perspective.
The second highlight of the tour was definitely to visit the dugout (or players bench, for those of you who are not too much into baseball). Really impressive view and feeling like a Pirates player for some minutes. Must be impressive to be down there with the people in the stands and the city you are representing right in front of you.
From pitch level, the tour went up to the top – the next stop was the media level with the working desks, media facilities – and even more breathtaking views of the stadium and the city.
From there we went to the area from where you enjoy the matches if you love the team and can afford to have the entertainment in the most posh way: watching the VIP and hospitality area was really impressive, we could even visit a business lounge, which was really beautiful in design. After that stage, the tour was coming to an end and we went back to street level.
PNC Park – Pittsburgh Pirates Store
Of course, no visit and no stadium tour is complete without visiting the merchandise wonderland. US professional sports teams typically are really good in driving these places – and so do the Pirates. They had a lot of jerseys, caps, other apparel and of course all these cute and strange things you feel to need to fully support your team.
PNC Park – My View
Visiting PNC Park was not my first time at a ballpark, but the first time having a chance to look behind the scenes. The staff was really nice and motivated – and you felt that they are proud to work for and present their organisation. The tour itself and many of the stages were really good – I especially felt that the way hospitality is driven and media is working at the MLB was interesting to me. Vice versa, I felt that not being able to have a snap of the locker room is a bit of strange to me. Still, it was a really enjoyable tour – which is finally already worth it due to the breathtaking views of my favorite US city.
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