Ballpark Reviews, Baseball, Travel

Ballpark Review: PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates)

PNC Park has been on our bucket list for some time, and we were excited to check this off the list with our buddies Sindhuja and Myles. These two also met at a Cardinals game, fell in love, and got married. ?This ballpark definitely lived up to the hype and most assuredly has the best skyline view and modern classic design we’ve seen to-date.


PNC boasts one of the best ballpark views with the breathtaking Roberto Clemente Bridge, Allegheny River, and downtown Pittsburgh skyline visible from most locations in the park. Several prominent Pittsburgh buildings are visible in the skyline including the Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) Place (looks like a glass castle), tallest building (UPMC), ski slope of their convention center, and the Renaissance Hotel. It’s definitely the best city skyline of any ballpark we’ve visited, and is gorgeous at any time of day or in any weather.

The PNC classic-style design was modeled after the historic Forbes Field. Key features that mimic Forbes are the two-deck design, blue seats, toothbrush light stands, natural grass, and left field bleachers. The combination of modern amenities with the old school feel made for an amazing experience. We got to visit the original Forbes Field outfield wall and see a replica at the Carnegie Science Center.

Beige limestone is utilized on the exterior, which looks very similar to surrounding buildings, but contrasts nicely with the Pirates blue, black, and yellow colors. The Pirates changed their colors from red, white, and blue to black and yellow in 1948. All the Pittsburgh major sports teams (Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins) have the same team colors. It’s really neat to see all the yellow bridges and stadiums throughout the city. All of the Three Sisters suspension bridges (Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Carson) can be seen from some places in the stadium, and the faces of their namesakes are painted on a parking garage across the river beyond right field.

When it was built, PNC was the 2nd smallest ballpark in the MLB (now 6th smallest by seating capacity), making it quite intimate. The upper levels are especially close as they aren’t angled as much as typical upper levels.

Amazing statues of Pirates’ Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and Bill Mazeroski are located at various points outside of PNC Park. They are massive and perched in phenomenal positions that are fun to interact with. The Clemente statue features his famous knobless bat and is appropriately located directly in front of the bridge named after him.

The Riverwalk along right and center field features the Pirates’ NL Pennants along with the bronzed hands of Ralph Kiner and a weird bronze head of former Pirates president Carl Barger.

The Pirates’ five World Series wins are displayed below the press box. The views from the press box are the absolute best (check out the 360 view).

Current players’ banners grace the exterior of the stadium.

The Wall of Firsts shown on the tour highlights many Pirates firsts including:

  • 1960 – First and only World Series with a Game 7 walk-off homer
  • 1971 – First nighttime World Series game
  • 1971 – First all-minority lineup
  • Last guys to hit home run and strike out in Three Rivers Stadium

Pittsburgh boasts the most batting titles in MLB with Honus Wagner having the most.

The Pirates’ batting cages have turf from Three Rivers Stadium, which you can step on during the tour. They have pitching machines that can mimic any pitch but the knuckleball.

Interestingly, the dirt is made from crushed lava rock from Utah. Unlike other parks, the home team sits in the third base dugout to get the optimal view of the city. I liked how the visiting team logo is placed on top of their dugout.

The Pirates’ letters are neatly cut out of the shrubbery in the batter’s eye in front of the Roberto Clemente bridge, but is slightly off-center making it a little distracting. The green wall is a pretty large obstruction and would look better with ivy over it like the next door building.

The smaller capacity and two-deck design makes the stadium more cozy, but also bit a harder to get around with slightly more narrow concourses and having to scale more steps to get to seats. The two sets of neat rotunda ramps as well as escalators, stairs, and elevators can be used to reach the upper levels. A lot of the concessions were unfortunately shut down on the upper level and made lines very long. The integration of a Riverwalk concourse along center and right field provides beautiful views of the city as well as easy access to the bleachers. You have to go up a level to access the main concourse along first, third, and home plate.

The scoreboard is relatively small but decent quality. The scores were easy to read and colored based on the team. The ads on the sides were a bit large. They also have a large out-of-town scoreboard in right field. The outfield walls are each different heights with this right field wall at 21 feet to honor Clemente. Retired numbers for other players were not very prominently displayed.


PNC is located on the North Shore of Pittsburgh with amazing views of Roberto Clemente Bridge and downtown Pittsburgh. The bridge is closed to traffic on game days so fans can take in the gorgeous views and gain easy access to Downtown and the Cultural District. Be sure to stroll through Point State Park, the only state park in an urban setting. The Children’s Museum, Andy Warhol Museum, Heinz Field (Steelers), and Carnegie Science Center are great family activities within walking distance from PNC. Ride the Duquesne Incline to the top of Mt. Washington for amazing views of the entire city. The popular markets of the Strip District and nightlife of the South Side are only a short drive.

We fortunately were able to walk to the park along the scenic Three Rivers Heritage Trail from our Heinz Loft accommodations. There appeared to be ample parking nearby, but pre-paying is recommended. The surrounding areas seemed very safe and relatively clean, especially along the riverwalks.


Manny’s BBQ, named after and often operated by the Pirates’ very own Manny Sanguillen, is a popular food option. The pulled pork pierogi hoagie and pulled pork loaded nachos were awesome! The pulled pork was very flavorful and moist. I added extra nacho toppings (jalapeños and onions) from another nacho stand.

Scott opted for a pepperoni pizza slice, pepperoni roll, and garlic knots from Slice on Broadway, a local restaurant. We noticed that pepperoni rolls were a local delicacy and he couldn’t resist.

There is a Primanti Bros, one of the quintessential restaurants in Pittsburgh. We had this for lunch from the original location so opted out of having this hefty sandwich again.

Pop’s Plaza (named in honor of Willie Stargell) includes several food options including Chickie’s and Pete’s Crabfries. I would have also liked to try Papa Duke’s gyros, jerk chicken nachos, cinnamon chipotle topped tots, and the Riverwalk Grill footlong beef Cuban Pretzel Dog topped with ham, house-smoked pork, pickles, and mustard.

There were quite a few ice cream stands, and the shipwreck sundae (section 107) is supposed to be yummy.

A full-service bar with cocktails and wine are available at the Jim Beam Left Field Lounge. You can get Arnold Palmer Spiked Lemonade within the Crowe’s Nest lounge. See pics in Amenities section.

The Terrace Bar (section 317) provides several crafts brews (like I.C. Light and Yuengling) as well as wine.

Tickets on the upper level were approximately $30 for a Saturday game. The food and drinks were reasonably priced – a little lower than typical parks.


The Pittsburgh Baseball Club (PBC) requires special tickets for entry and is made up of three areas (Club 3000, Gunner’s Lounge, and Keystone Corner). PBC features an extended concession menu, lounge areas, and pool tables. We opted out of this as the additional amenities didn’t look worth the extra cost.

Additional premium suites with amenities and extended concessions include the Hyundai Club and Rivendale Suite Level. The World Series suites (7 total for each appearance) are the only all-inclusive seating that include food/buffet with the price of the ticket.

There are several free lounge/hang out areas including the Skull Bar, Crowe’s Nest lounge, and Jim Beam Left Field Lounge. The Jim Beam Left Field Lounge & Porch and Crows Nest feature lounge seats, dining tables, bars, and nice views of the city.

The Chevron STEM Zone located at the right field gate features a miniature PNC park, multi-purpose play set, various STEM learning interactive exhibits, VR home run derby and pitching metrics cage, and a broadcast booth where kids can call classic Pirates moments.

The bathrooms were pretty gross and small, which was a bit surprising considering how nice the rest of the stadium is. The seats in the upper levels were very narrow and had no cup holders.

There is a large two-story team store as well as many smaller stores around the park. There’s a small authentics booth in the concourse. They do not have a museum or hall of fame for the Pirates, but there is a Roberto Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh.


The Great Pierogy Race in the 5th inning is pretty entertaining to watch. Pierogies in the race include Potato Pete (blue hat), Jalapeño Hannah (green hat), Cheese Chester (yellow hat), Sauerkraut Saul (red hat), Oliver Onion (purple hat), Bacon Burt (orange hat), and Pizza Penny (checkerboard red and white hat). Jalapeño Hannah won the race at our game!

Cowbells were handed out to kids from cancer awareness charity and were pretty annoying throughout the game.

Superhero night with hero-themed music, graphics, and even questions for the players (like which player would play a villain) was fun. We got a neat yellow Pirates-themed Spiderman bobblehead as part of the giveaway.

Music between innings was unique but the sound system wasn’t that loud and music/organ played very infrequently. There weren’t a lot of flashy lights to pump up the fans.

The Pirates’ poor performance has had its toll on fan enthusiasm. Their last World Series win was 1979, they’ve never won the Central Division, and are heading towards finishing last in the division this year. Despite this, the stadium appeared relatively full, but not the crown was not excessively exuberant (although hard to judge since they were beaten so badly). The fans in the upper levels by us were pretty enthusiastic, and quite critical of both Cards & Pirates players. There were a lot of Cards fans, mostly clustered by the first baseline (Cardinals’ dugout).

There wasn’t a significant integration of franchise history in the game likely because there hasn’t been a lot of recent historical moments. Most of the history is reflected in the stadium design and statues.

Pirate Parrot shows up between innings and shoots out t-shirts with a cannon with the Bucco Brigade, an interactive squad that handles the in-game entertainment. Fredbird is still our favorite bird. ?

There wasn’t a whole lot for the Pirates to celebrate during this game. However, they did win the game the night before, and the Jolly Roger flag was flying high during the day (the flag is raised when the Pirates win).

We got to see the Cards take batting practice and Tyler Webb threw me a ball! We finally got to see the Cards play and dominate in their new pretty blue uniforms!

Summary & Scoring

Date Visited: Saturday, September 7, 2019 Tour & Game
Game Played: Cardinals 10, Pirates 1 – The Cards totally dominated! Waino had an amazing night with two hits & a run scored and only 1 run given up over 7 innings. Ozuna (not Osuna, who was in RF for the Pirates) hit a 3-run homer. Many others contributed RBIs including Bader, Wong, Fowler, DeJong, and Edman. Box Score
Design: 4.9 out of 5 stars – Unique throwback design with best view in MLB
Location: 5 out of 5 stars – Perfectly situated along the river and walkable from most of the city
Concessions: 4.3 out of 5 stars – Excellent variety and quality but mediocre service
Amenities: 3.8 out of 5 stars – Lounges/suites are reminiscent of hotel conference rooms; small yet high-tech STEM Zone for kids
Culture: 3.3 out of 5 stars – Eerily quiet at times due to lack of music and fan enthusiasm
Overall: 4.2 out of 5 stars – A modern classic in the heart of Pittsburgh featuring the best skyline in baseball

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