PNC Park

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This article is about the Pittsburgh Pirates stadium. For the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders stadium, see PNC Field.
PNC Park
PNC Park logo.jpg
Pedro goes to Pittsburgh.jpg
A view of the field from upper-level seating
Location 115 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15212
Coordinates 40°26′49″N 80°0′21″W / 40.44694°N 80.00583°W / 40.44694; -80.00583Coordinates: 40°26′49″N 80°0′21″W / 40.44694°N 80.00583°W / 40.44694; -80.00583
Public transit Pittsburgh Light Rail North Side
Owner Sports & Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County[1]
Operator Pittsburgh Pirates[1]
Capacity 37,898 (2001-2003)
38,496 (2004-2007)
38,362 (2008-present)
Record attendance 40,629 (October 1, 2014)
Field size Left Field – 325 feet (99 m)
Left-Center – 383 feet (117 m)
Deep Left-Center Field – 410 feet (125 m)
Center Field – 399 feet (122 m)
Right-Center – 375 feet (114 m)
Right Field – 320 feet (98 m)
Backstop – 51 feet (16 m)
Surface Grass
Construction
Broke ground April 7, 1999
Opened March 31, 2001
Construction cost $216 million
($288 million in 2014 dollars[2])
Architect HOK Sport[3]
L.D. Astorino & Associates
Project manager Project Management Consultants LLC[4]
Structural engineer Thornton-Tomasetti Group Inc.[5]
Services engineer M*E Engineers[5]
General contractor Dick Corporation/Barton Malow JV[6]
Tenants
Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB) (2001–present)

PNC Park is a baseball park located on the North Shore of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the fifth home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the city's Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise.[7][8] It opened during the 2001 MLB season, after the controlled implosion of the Pirates' previous home, Three Rivers Stadium. The ballpark is sponsored by PNC Financial Services, which purchased the naming rights in 1998.[9] PNC Park features a natural grass playing surface and seats 38,362 people for baseball.

Funded in conjunction with Heinz Field and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the $216 million park stands along the Allegheny River, on the North Shore of Pittsburgh with a view of Downtown Pittsburgh. Plans to build a new stadium for the Pirates originated in 1991, but did not come to fruition for five years. Built in the style of "classic" stadiums, such as Pittsburgh's Forbes Field, PNC Park also introduced unique features, such as the use of limestone in the building's facade.[7] The park also features a riverside concourse, steel truss work, an extensive out-of-town scoreboard, and many local eateries. Constructed faster than most modern stadiums, PNC Park was built in a 24-month span.

History[edit]

Planning and funding[edit]

On September 5, 1991, Pittsburgh mayor Sophie Masloff proposed a new 44,000-seat stadium for the Pittsburgh Pirates on the city's Northside.[10] Three Rivers Stadium, the Pirates' home at the time, had been designed for functionality rather than "architecture and aesthetics".[10] The location of Three Rivers Stadium came to be criticized for being in a hard-to-access portion of the city, where traffic congestion occurred before and after games.[11] Discussions about a new ballpark took place, but were never seriously considered until entrepreneur Kevin McClatchy purchased the team in February 1996. Until McClatchy's purchase, plans about the team remaining in Pittsburgh were uncertain.[10] In 1996, Masloff's successor, Tom Murphy, created the "Forbes Field II Task Force". Made up of 29 political and business leaders, the team studied the challenges of constructing a new ballpark. Their final report, published on June 26, 1996, evaluated 13 possible locations. The "North Side site" was recommended due to its affordable cost, potential to develop the surrounding area, and opportunity to incorporate the city skyline into the stadium's design.[10] The site selected for the ballpark is just upriver from the site of early Pirates home field Exposition Park.[12][13]

Skyline of Downtown Pittsburgh from PNC Park

After a political debate, public money was used to fund PNC Park. Originally, a sales tax increase was proposed to fund three projects: PNC Park, Heinz Field, and an expansion of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. However, after the proposal was soundly rejected in a referendum, the city developed Plan B.[14] Similarly controversial, the alternative proposal was labeled Scam B by opponents.[15] Some members of the Allegheny Regional Asset District felt that the Pirates' pledge of $40 million toward the new stadium was too little, while others criticized the amount of public money allocated for Plan B. One member of the Allegheny Regional Asset District board called the use of tax dollars "corporate welfare".[16][17] The plan, totaling $809 million, was approved by the Allegheny Regional Asset District board on July 9, 1998—with $228 million allotted for PNC Park.[16][18] Shortly after Plan B was approved, the Pirates made a deal with Pittsburgh city officials to remain in the city until at least 2031.[15]

There was popular sentiment by fans for the Pirates to name the stadium after former outfielder Roberto Clemente. However, locally-based PNC Financial Services purchased the stadium's naming rights in August 1998.[9][19] As per the agreement, PNC Bank will pay the Pirates approximately $2 million each year through 2020, and also has a full-service PNC branch at the stadium.[20][21] The total cost of PNC Park was $216 million.[7][8] Shortly after the naming rights deal was announced, the city of Pittsburgh renamed the Sixth Street Bridge near the southeast corner of the site of the park the Roberto Clemente Bridge as a compromise to fans who had wanted the park named after Clemente.[22]

Design and construction[edit]

Kansas City-based HOK Sport, which designed many other major league ballparks of the late 20th and early 21st century, designed the ballpark.[23][24] The design and construction management team consisted of the Dick Corporation and Barton Malow.[7] An effort was made in the design of PNC Park to salute other "classic style" ballparks, such as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Pittsburgh's Forbes Field; the design of the ballpark's archways, steel truss work, and light standards are results of this goal.[7][25] PNC Park was the first two-deck ballpark to be built in the United States since Milwaukee County Stadium opened in 1953.[8][25] The park features a 24 by 42 foot (7.3 by 12.8 m) Sony JumboTron, which is accompanied by the first-ever LED video boards in an outdoor MLB stadium.[26] PNC Park is the first stadium to feature an out-of-town scoreboard with the score, inning, count, number of outs, and base runners for every other game being played around the league.[26]

The 6th Street Bridge was renamed the Roberto Clemente Bridge in honor of the former Pirate.

Ground was broken for PNC Park on April 7, 1999,[27] after a ceremony to rename the Sixth Street Bridge as the "Roberto Clemente Bridge" in honor of the late Pirate Roberto Clemente.[28] As part of original plans to create an enjoyable experience for fans, the bridge is closed to vehicular traffic on game days to allow spectators to park in Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle and walk across the bridge to the stadium.[29][30] PNC Park was built with Kasota limestone shipped from a Minnesota river valley, to contrast the brick bases of other modern stadiums.[31] The stadium was constructed over a 24-month span—at the time of construction, three months faster than any other modern major league ballpark—and the Pirates played their first game less than two years after groundbreaking.[32] The quick construction was accomplished with the use of special computers, which relayed building plans to builders 24 hours per day.[32] In addition, all 23 labor unions involved in the construction signed a pact that they would not strike during the building process.[32] As a result of union involvement and attention to safety regulations, the construction manager, the Dick Corporation, received a merit award for its safety practices from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.[33]

Statues of Pirates' Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski are positioned at various points outside of PNC Park. Wagner and Clemente's statues were previously located outside of Three Rivers Stadium, and after the venue was imploded, the two statues were removed from their locations, refurbished, and relocated outside PNC Park.[34] Wagner's statue was originally unveiled at Forbes Field in 1955.[35][36] The base of Clemente's statue is shaped like a baseball diamond, with dirt from three of the fields Clemente played at—Santurce Field in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Forbes Field, and Three Rivers Stadium—at each base.[37] On October 1, 2000, after the final game at Three Rivers Stadium, Stargell threw out the ceremonial last pitch. He was presented with a model of a statue that was to be erected in his honor outside of PNC Park.[38] The statue was officially unveiled on April 7, 2001; however, Stargell did not attend due to health problems and died of a stroke two days later.[39][40] A statue for Bill Mazeroski was added at the right field entrance, at the south end of Mazeroski Way, during the 2010 season. This was the 50th anniversary of the Pirates' 1960 World Series championship, which Mazeroski clinched with a Game 7 walk-off home run at Forbes Field. The statue itself was designed based on that event.[41]

Opening and reception[edit]

A view of PNC Park from Downtown Pittsburgh across the Allegheny River

The Pirates opened PNC Park with two exhibition games against the New York Mets—the first of which was played on March 31, 2001.[42] The first official baseball game played in PNC Park was between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pirates, on April 9, 2001. The Reds won the game by the final score of 8–2.[43] The first pitch—a ball—was thrown from Pittsburgh's Todd Ritchie to Barry Larkin. In the top of the first inning, Pittsburgh native Sean Casey's two-run home run was the first hit in the park. The first Pirates' batter, Adrian Brown, struck out; however, later in the inning Jason Kendall singled—the first hit by a Pirate in their new stadium.[7]

PNC Park had an average attendance of 30,742 people per game throughout its inaugural season,[44] though it would drop approximately 27% the following season to 22,594 spectators per game.[45] Throughout the 2001 season, businesses in downtown and on the Northside of Pittsburgh showed a 20–25% increase in business on Pirate game days.[46]

Pirates' vice-president Steve Greenberg said, "We said when construction began that we would build the best ballpark in baseball, and we believe we've done that."[47] Major League Baseball executive Paul Beeston said the park was "the best he's seen so far in baseball".[47] Many of the workers who built the park said that it was the nicest that they had seen.[33] Jason Kendall, Pittsburgh's catcher at the opening of the park, called PNC Park "the most beautiful ballpark in the game".[48] Different elements of PNC Park were used in the design of New York's Citi Field.[49]

The bordering street Mazeroski Way is named for former Pirate Bill Mazeroski.

Upon opening in 2001, PNC Park was praised by fans and media alike. ESPN.com writer Jim Caple ranked PNC Park as the best stadium in Major League Baseball, with a score of 95 out of 100.[50] Caple compared the park to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, calling the stadium itself "perfect", and citing high ticket prices as the only negative aspect of visiting the park.[50] Jay Ahjua, author of Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks, called PNC Park one of the "top ten places to watch the game".[51] Eric Enders, author of Ballparks Then and Now and co-author of Big League Ballparks: The Complete Illustrated History, said it was "everything a baseball stadium could hope to be" and "an immediate contender for the title of best baseball park ever built".[52] In 2008, Men's Fitness named the park one of "10 big league parks worth seeing this summer".[53][54] A 2010 unranked list of "America's 7 Best Ballparks" published by ABC News noted that PNC Park "combines the best features of yesterday's ballparks—rhythmic archways, steel trusswork and a natural grass playing field—with the latest in fan and player amenities and comfort".[55]

Alterations[edit]

An exhibit honoring Pittsburgh's Negro league baseball teams was introduced in 2006. Located by the stadium's left field entrance, the display features statues of seven players who competed for the city's Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, including Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. The exhibit also includes the Legacy Theatre, a 25-seat facility that plays a film about Pittsburgh's history with the Negro leagues.[56]

In 2007, Allegheny County passed a ban on smoking in most public places, thus making PNC Park completely smoke-free.[57] Prior to the 2008 season, the Pirates made multiple alterations to PNC Park.[58] The biggest change was removing the Outback Steakhouse located underneath the scoreboard, and adding a new restaurant known as The Hall of Fame Club.[59] Unlike its predecessor, The Hall of Fame Club is open to all ticket-holders on game days; it includes an outdoor patio with a bar and seats with a view of the field.[59] The Pirates feature bands in The Hall of Fame Club after the completion of select games—the first performance was by Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers.[58][59] The Pirates also announced a program to make the park more environmentally friendly, by integrating "greening initiatives, sustainable business practices and educational outreach".[60] In addition, club and suite sections were outfitted with high-definition televisions.[59] In 2012, the "Budweiser Bow Tie", a 5,000 square foot bar and lounge located in the right field corner of the ballpark, was added. The section includes ticketed seats along with areas for groups and the general public. This addition was expected to cost about $1,000,000.[61]

College baseball[edit]

The first collegiate baseball game at PNC Park was played on May 6, 2003, between the Pitt Panthers and the Duquesne Dukes, a rivalry that was referred to as the City Game.[62] Duquesne won the game by a score of 2–1.[63] However, due to Duquesne's decision to disband their baseball program following the 2010 season, the series between the two schools came to an end.[64] The PNC Park City Game series ended in Pitt's favor, four games to two, with the 2007 game canceled because of poor field conditions.[65][66][67]

Concerts[edit]

PNC Park has also hosted various concerts, including Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band on August 6, 2003,[68] The Rolling Stones[69] and Pearl Jam on September 28, 2005, Jimmy Buffett on June 26, 2005 and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes on August 24, 2006 and Dave Matthews Band with opening act, Zac Brown Band, on July 10, 2010. The park also served as one of the locations for the 2010 film She's Out of My League and the 2011 film Abduction. Jason Aldean will stop here on his 2014 Burn It Down Tour With Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line & Tyler Farr as openers.

All-Star Game[edit]

PNC Park hosted the 77th Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 11, 2006.[70] The American League defeated the National League by a score of 3–2, with 38,904 spectators in attendance.[71] The first All-Star Game in PNC Park, it was the fifth All-Star Game hosted in Pittsburgh, and the first since 1994.[72] During the game, late Pirate Roberto Clemente was honored with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award; his wife, Vera, accepted on his behalf.[73] The stadium hosted the Century 21 Home Run Derby the previous evening; Ryan Howard, of the Philadelphia Phillies, won the title.[74] During the Derby, Howard and David Ortiz hit home runs into the Allegheny River.[75]

Other events[edit]

PNC Park has hosted various evacuation and response drills, which would be used in the event of a terrorist attack. Members of the United States Department of Homeland Security laid out the groundwork for the initial drill in February 2004.[76] In May 2005, 5,000 volunteers participated in the $1 million evacuation drill, which included mock explosions.[77] A goal of the drill was to test the response of 49 western Pennsylvania emergency agencies.[78] In April 2006, the Department of Homeland Security worked in conjunction with the United States Coast Guard to develop a plan of response for the 2006 All-Star Game.[79] Similar exercises were conducted on the Allegheny River in 2007.[80]

No-hitter[edit]

On September 28, 2012 PNC Park saw its first no-hitter when Reds pitcher Homer Bailey no-hit the Pirates 1–0. PNC Park has yet to see a no-hitter or perfect game thrown by a Pirate.

An evening game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates - August 7, 2001

Features[edit]

Playing surface and dimensions[edit]

The playing surface of PNC Park is Tuckahoe Bluegrass, which is a mixture of various types of Kentucky Bluegrass.[81] Installed prior to the 2009 season, the grass surface was selected for its "high quality pedigree that is ideal for Northern cities such as Pittsburgh".[81] The infield dirt is a mixture known as "Dura Edge All-Star Infield Mix" and was designed solely for PNC Park.[81] The 18-foot warning track is crushed lava rock.[81][82] The drainage system underneath the field is capable of handling 14 inches (36 cm) of rain per hour.[83] The original playing surface consisted of sand-based natural grass,[84] and was replaced prior to the 2006 season.[81] Unlike most ballparks, PNC Park's home dugout is located along the third base line instead of the first base line; giving the home team a view of the city skyline.[85] The outfield fence ranges from a height of 6 feet (2 m) in left field to 10 feet (3 m) in center field and 21 feet (6 m) in right field, a tribute to former Pirate right fielder Roberto Clemente, who wore number 21.[53][86] The distance from home plate to the outfield fence ranges from 320 feet (98 m) in right field to 410 feet (125 m) in left center; the straightaway center field fence is set at 399 feet (122 m).[7] At its closest point, the Allegheny River is 443 feet (135 m) and 4 inches (10 cm) from home plate.[7][8] On July 6, 2002, Daryle Ward became the first player to hit the river "on the fly". On June 2, 2013, Garrett Jones became only the second player to accomplish the feat, and was the first Pirate to do so.[87]

Seating and ticket prices[edit]

During its opening season, PNC Park's seating capacity of 38,496 was the second-smallest of any major league stadium—the smallest being Fenway Park.[7][88] Seats are angled toward the field and aisles are lowered to give spectators improved views of the field.[89] The majority of the seats, 26,000, are on the first level,[47] and the highest seat in the stadium is 88 feet (27 m) above the playing surface.[90] At 51 feet (16 m), the batter is closer to the seats behind home plate than to the pitcher.[91] At their closest point, seating along the baselines is 45 feet (14 m) from the bases.[89] The four-level steel rotunda and a section above the out-of-town scoreboard offer standing-room only space.[92] With the exception of the bleacher sections, all seats in the park offer a view of Pittsburgh's skyline.[93]

In its opening season, PNC Park's tickets were priced between $9 and $35 for general admission.[47][94] For the 2014 season, prices range from $20 to $62, depending on the location and game.[95] The stadium includes 69 luxury suites and 5,558 suite and club seats, with prices ranging from $55 to $250 per ticket throughout the 2014 season.[95] One of only two teams not to increase ticket prices entering the 2009 season, PNC Park ranked as having the third-cheapest average ticket prices in the league.[96] The stadium's average ticket price for 2013 was $17.21, again third from the bottom of MLB.[97] Attendance throughout the 2013 season averaged 28,210 spectators per game, 19th in the 30-team league.[98] In previous years, attendance had been lower; in the stadium's first decade, average attendance dipped under 20,000 fans per game four times.[99] The low attendance has come as a result of the Pirates' play; as of 2013, the Pirates have only had one winning record since 1992.[100] Through 2004, 5% of games played at PNC Park were sold out.[89] The number of sellouts increased in 2012 and 2013; after filling PNC Park 17 times in 2012, the team played to capacity crowds at 23 games in 2013.[97]

Eateries[edit]

A traditional Primanti Brothers sandwich

As with its predecessor, PNC Park's concessions service provider is Aramark,[101][102] while the premium seating areas (The Lexus Club, PBC Level and Suites Level) are serviced by Levy Restaurants.[103] The main eating concourse, known as "Tastes of Pittsburgh",[93] features a wide range of options including traditional ballpark foods, hometown specialties, and more exotic fare like sushi.[104] Pittsburgh's hometown specialties include Primanti Brothers sandwiches, whose signature item consists of meat, cheese, hand-cut French fries, tomatoes, and coleslaw between two slices of Italian bread.[105][106] Other local eateries offered include Mrs. T's Pierogies, Quaker Steak & Lube, Augustine's Pizza, and Benkovitz Seafood.[104] Located behind center field seating is Manny's BBQ, which offers various barbecue meals. It is named for former Pirates' catcher Manny Sanguillén, who has been known to sign autographs for fans waiting in line.[88][107] For the 2008 season, the Pirates created an all-you-can-eat section in the right field corner.[59] Fans seated in the section are allowed "unlimited hotdogs, hamburgers, nachos, salads, popcorn, peanuts, ice cream and pop" for an entire game.[108] In addition to the food offered, fans are free to bring their own food into the stadium, a rarity among the league's ballparks.[86]

For its first thirteen years, PNC Park sold Pepsi products, a stark contrast from its predecessor Three River Stadium, which sold Coca-Cola products, as well as Heinz Field and Mellon Arena. This was shown in right field, where several versions of the Pepsi Globe as well as a Pepsi bottle were shown on posts behind the stands and lit up every time the Pirates hit a home run. In 2014, the Pirates switched to Coca-Cola. With Heinz Field having switched to Pepsi in 2012 and Consol Energy Center (which opened in 2010 to replace the Mellon Arena) having a contract with Dr Pepper Snapple Group, this marked the first time since 2012 that all three of Pittsburgh's major sporting venues sold different soft drinks.[109] There were initially conflicting reports as to whether or not Coke would replace the Pepsi signage in right field after it is taken down.[109][110] The posts were converted into advertising by locally-based health insurance company Highmark.[111]

Transportation access[edit]

PNC Park is located at exit 1B of Interstate 279 and within one mile of both Interstate 376 and Interstate 579. The park is also served by the North Side transit station of the Pittsburgh subway system.

Fictional portrayals[edit]

PNC Park has been featured in the following big budget films and TV series:

References[edit]

Footnotes
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  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "PNC Park". PittsburghPirates.com. Retrieved April 3, 2008. 
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Bibliography

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Three Rivers Stadium
Home of the
Pittsburgh Pirates

2001 – present
Succeeded by
Current
Preceded by
Comerica Park
Host of the
MLB All-Star Game

2006
Succeeded by
AT&T Park