3 More PNC Park Food Options

PNC Park


3 More PNC Park Food Options

Posted by Kurt Smith

Like most ballparks these days, PNC Park in Pittsburgh has some great samples of local flavors…I’ve talked about the Primanti Bros. sandwich and BRGR stuff here. But they’re hardly your only choices…here’s a few more great PNC Park food options:

 

pnc park food options mannys

BBQ sliders, beans, slaw, and a handshake from a Pirates great.

PNC Park Food Options, #1) Manny’s BBQ Platters. Longtime Bucs fans of course remember Manny Sanguillen, the star catcher of the great 1970s Pirates teams. Today Manny sits behind the counter and signs autographs for people patronizing his BBQ stand, like Boog Powell does in Baltimore.

Manny’s is located in the Riverwalk area in center field. Their burgers are grilled on smokers in full view behind the counter and across the aisle. You’ll love the smell. Loaded burgers especially get good reviews, and the platters with beans and slaw offer decent bang for your ballpark buck.

 

best ballpark in baseball pulled pork pierogi stacker

Anyone want my extra pierogi?

PNC Park Food Options, #2) The Pulled Pork Pierogi Stacker. Manny’s (and the Familee BBQ stand in Pops Plaza) is also home to the Pierogi Stacker, which was pulled pork with onion relish, barbecue sauce and pierogies—yes, pierogies—piled on it and sandwiched between two soft pretzel rolls. It’s vintage Pittsburgh.

Such a sandwich would probably require a fork and napkins to eat, and it’s probably not the healthiest thing, but who cares. At least you’re not likely to be hungry afterward.

 

pnc park food options menchies yogurt

Well worth the sugar crash afterward.

PNC Park Food Options, #3) Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. Menchie’s frozen yogurt is pretty popular; the chain has locations all over the world. And one in PNC Park.

The PNC outpost almost looks like you can help yourself (but no, it’s not free); pick a cone or a cup, fill it with vanilla or chocolate yogurt and then top it with a great selection of toppings including Reese’s pieces and crushed Oreos.

This is probably the fanciest dessert item outside of the Club areas; and the yogurt is kosher and gluten-free as they point out. I’ve tried Menchie’s and it’s awesome, especially for the price…highly recommended for dessert at PNC.

 

There you go…now you have more of an idea what you can eat at the Pirates game. Stay tuned, I’ll share more…

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The Best Way To Get To PNC Park (Without A Car)

Posted by Kurt Smith

One very cool thing about PNC Park in Pittsburgh is that because of its location, you have a choice of not just the free downtown buses and light rail (I talk a little bit about that here), but also some fun, romantic and greener ways to arrive at a Pirates game. For the best way to get to PNC Park without a car, check out one of these choices…

 

best way to get to pnc park gateway clipper

“And folks, if you look to your left, you’ll see…oh wait, here we are!”

Best way to get to PNC Park, #1) The Gateway Clipper. The Gateway Clipper folks have a fleet of inland riverboats that run folks from Station Square to the outfield entrance of PNC Park. The fee is reasonable and free for kids under 6. You can usually park in the West Lot at Station Square cheaply, so long as there isn’t a special event going on.

Clippers begin carrying passengers over two hours before the game starts, and begins return trips in the 7th inning until a half hour after the game (or ½ hour after postgame fireworks or kids running bases). The lines for the return trip can get long afterwards, so be prepared.

The Clipper is a fun and novel way to get to or from a ballgame; it’s also a cool romantic thing if you’re so inclined. Station Square is a happening spot, with stores, restaurants and hotels and a railroad car that can take you up the Monongahela Incline for a spectacular view of Pittsburgh.

Just try to get on the earliest boat, because they’ll sometimes wait until a boat is full before sending it, and this has made people late for games in the past.

 

best way to get to pnc park pittsburgh water limo

Marketing fail: website address should always be dockside!

Best way to get to PNC Park, #2) Pittsburgh Water Limo. Coming from the Strip District area (east of the ballpark on the North Shore), Pittsburgh Luxury Cruises rows boatfuls of fans to Pirates games on weekends.

Prices are reasonable, and you can park for free or inexpensively at the Lockwall One Marina. Reservations are recommended; it only holds 49.

Three boat rides run a half hour apart starting 65 minutes before each game; boats start returning passengers to the marina starting at the 7th inning stretch and continuing a half hour after the game. They’ll also run boats after fireworks or a concert.

As if all that wasn’t cool enough, you can buy a beer or glass of wine on the boat, and probably cheaper than it would be inside the ballpark.

The Strip District is another happening part of Pittsburgh with eateries and nightlife. If you’re doing the whole ‘Burgh experience you can have breakfast at Deluca’s, ride a boat on the Allegheny and take in a Pirates game. Great for romantic outings if your other can stand baseball (and even my wife can do that in Pittsburgh).

 

best way to get to pnc park bicycle

Featuring a solar-powered station, for further carbon footprint reduction with your baseball!

Best way to get to PNC Park, #3) Ride your bicycle (or rent one). PNC Park isn’t a bad ballpark to two-wheel it; there are bicycle paths near the park, including a scenic route along the waterfront. Cyclists can use any of the bridges that connect the North Shore to Everywhere Else in Pittsburgh except for the I-579 Veterans Bridge. There are ample bicycle racks on Federal Street on the east side of the ballpark.

An organization called Bike Pittsburgh features a map of trails and dedicated bicycle lanes in the city on their website. If you’re using a car/bicycle combination, Bike Pittsburgh suggests parking for free at Washington’s Landing north in the Allegheny and using the North Shore Trail straight to the park.

You also have bicycle rental options in Pittsburgh; for a small fee, Healthy Ride bikeshare members can take a bike from various stations throughout the city and return it to another station.

Healthy Ride a few stations close to PNC; one is right at the ballpark at Federal and Isabella. You could also use the station on the North Shore Trail, a very pleasant ride along the waterfront, or Fort Duquesne and 7th if you’d like to walk across the Clemente Bridge for the amazing view.

From what I’ve read in reviews of Healthy Ride, which weren’t always flattering, it’s definitely a good idea to get everything set up as far as accounts and such before trying this.

 

best way to get to pnc park pedicab

Nothing like having the right of way in downtown.

Best way to get to PNC Park, #4) Take a rickshaw. For a novel way to avoid traffic, save gas, and be eco-friendly, Green Gears Pedicabs will pedal you in a bicycle rickshaw to PNC Park and back from most downtown locations. Just call them and tell them where you are, and they’ll send one.

You can even bring a reasonable amount of cargo, and the nice part is that you don’t have to wait for the driver on the phone in front of you to get moving.

Up to three can ride in a Pedicab, and the price is fairly reasonable for the experience (parking would be cheaper, but just saying), although they would probably like you to tip.

 

Baseball fans talk glowingly about the view in PNC Park, and rightly so, but I consider the multiple ways to arrive at the place a great plus too. For your next visit to PNC, try an unusual way to get there and experience more of a great city.

Want to know more about PNC Park? Sign up here for my completely free PNC Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

3 PNC Park Seating Tips

Posted by Kurt Smith

It’s hard to go wrong with any seats at PNC Park…you’re going to have a pretty sweet view in any direction wherever you sit. But some spots are better than others. I talk a bit about splurging on club seats here, but if you don’t plan to shell out extra cash, here’s a few more PNC Park seating tips.

 

pnc park seating tips infield box

Well worth taking in the view even after the game.

PNC Park Seating Tips, #1) Infield/Outfield Box. The lower level of seating at PNC isn’t too rough on the wallet as these seats go. The third base side might be preferable for the overall view (especially on fireworks nights), but you’ll be very happy with any seat that’s not in the corners.

Outfield Box Sections 107 and 127 especially cost much less than seats just one section over, but if you can get Infield Box close to home plate, go for it. Infield Box seats are priced the same all the way out to just beyond the infield dirt, so it’s a good deal if you can swing it.

Manny’s BBQ excepted, the lower level concourse has the best food choices at PNC Park, like the Primanti Bros. sandwich and the Abso-Bac’N-Lutely Burger…you can read about those here.

 

pnc park seating tips grandstand

Watch boats go by on the Allegheny at no extra charge.

PNC Park Seating Tips, #2) Infield/Outfield Grandstand. The panoramic view from the upper level Grandstand is truly impressive…probably the best in baseball. There’s also some sweet views of the rivers and bridges from the right field concourse.

But it’s pretty good for watching baseball, too. Upper level seats are closer to the field than in most ballparks, and they’re very affordable, including discounted tickets for kids as I write this. I wouldn’t get too far in the outfield though…like any ballpark, you can still be pretty far away from the action.

One caveat: watch for obstructed views from glass landings. On the Pirates 3-D seating map, you can see which sections have landings (313, 315, etc.). It’s not terrible, but I’d avoid Rows H-K in those sections.

 

PNC Park seating tips outfield

Some Pirates fans come to see a ballgame, not a river view.

PNC Park Seating Tips, #3) Bleachers/Outfield Seats. Outfield Reserved seats in right field are cheap and have a fun atmosphere, but they doesn’t offer much in the way of a panoramic photo-op. It’s probably the only spot from which this ballpark’s view won’t wow you.

The Bleachers in left field offer a better overall view and are closer, but unlike Outfield Reserved seats, they’re hard metal benches and can be uncomfortable. No shame in bringing a cushion. The bleachers are also in front of the big scoreboard, so you’d be missing out on pierogi races or whatever if that matters.

One thing making the Bleachers preferable to Outfield Reserved is their proximity to the Jim Beam Left Field Lounge and the shaded Block House Corner under the rotunda, so it’s easy to grab a snack or craft brew and escape the elements. Millennials like that kind of stuff.

On a hot sunny day you will definitely bake sitting in outfield seats; bring a hat and sunscreen. I speak from experience.

 

There’s three PNC Park seating tips for you…hopefully this helps whatever your budget and taste at your next Pirates game. If you’re planning a trip to PNC, be sure to get this absolutely free e-mail newsletter…it’ll tell you everything you need to know…and then some.

Want to know more about PNC Park? Sign up here for my completely free PNC Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

3 Ways To Score Cheap Pirates Tickets

Posted by Kurt Smith

Every baseball fan should make the trip to visit PNC Park, but it’s also a second home to thousands of Bucs fans…at least the ones remaining following the trades of Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. But it’s still baseball, and we’re all looking for cheap Pirates tickets, right?

Here are just three tips for saving money on Pirates tickets from Ballpark E-Guides. And remember, there’s plenty more where that came from…be sure to sign up for my PNC Park e-mail newsletter

 

cheap pirates tickets newsletter

You can get this info without actually coming to the ballpark.

Cheap Pirates Tickets, Tip #1) Subscribe to Ticket Alerts. The Pirates e-mail newsletter contains a lot of great ticket offers, and on occasion the Pirates will waive ticket fees, saving you a trip to the box office. You’ll also know about giveaways, concert nights and fireworks nights, and the fireworks nights are popular enough to get your tickets well in advance.

The Pirates also make pre-sales available to subscribers, giving you a chance to land tickets for face value when high value opponents like the Cubs come to town.

 

cheap pirates tickets port authority

See what they did there with the two baseball references?

Cheap Pirates Tickets, Tip #2) Check Out Local Institutions. There are quite a few chains and businesses in Pittsburgh that offer ticket deals for Pirates fans.

As this is written, PNC Bank cardholders get discounts on tickets and fan club memberships; Giant Eagle cardholders get discounts for weeknight games; and Slice offers a family pack with tickets and pizza (and it’s great pizza…take it from a South Jersey pizza snob) at a discounted price. These things are all listed on the Pirates website.

Oh, and be sure to get that ConnectCard from the Port Authority; you can get discounts on Pirates tickets and other Pittsburgh stuff.

 

cheap pirates tickets

As opposed to using “jiu jitsu” to get your Pirates tickets…

Cheap Pirates Tickets, Tip #3) Get The Spring Pass. This one’s for locals who can go to a bunch of games. The Pirates offer a pass that you download on your phone that gives you access to every home game in a certain month, in this case April and May, for a fantastic price. If you’d like to see all of the Cubs games in a certain month, that alone will almost pay for this.

These passes sell out fast, so make sure that you’re subscribed to the Pirates newsletter to jump on it when it’s available.

 

cheap Pirates tickets seatgeek

Click the image to find deals on Pirates tickets…

Cheap Pirates Tickets, Bonus Tip) Try SeatGeek! SeatGeek is my favorite third party options for cheap baseball tickets; they list tickets from numerous other third parties and have built enough of a following to list their own wares. If you’re looking for a better deal on Pirates tix, click here to tell ‘em Kurt sent you. (Legal bit: SeatGeek is an affiliate of Ballpark E-Guides.)

 

There’s a few ways to save a few bucks on Pirates tickets; there are, of course, many other ways to enjoy a Pirates game at PNC Park without striking out your wallet buying tickets, parking or food. Stay tuned.

Want to know more about PNC Park? Sign up here for my completely free PNC Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

PNC Park Restaurants On Federal Street

Posted by Kurt Smith

There are four PNC Park restaurants…and when I say “PNC Park restaurants”, I don’t mean restaurants near PNC Park, I mean that there are actually four eateries attached to the ballpark, with entrances on Federal Street.

These are bona fide grub stops that are popular on game days, and with overall food quality inside the otherwise spectacular Pittsburgh ballpark (it’s not that bad, but it could be better), they make a good choice for a pre- or post-game meal, with the outdoor dining and all that.

Here are your Federal Street choices…

 

pnc park restaurants left field lounge

You have to step outside for this view, but at least there’s a drink rail.

PNC Park Restaurants, #1) The Left Field Club. It changes sponsors frequently…it’s the Jim Beam Left Field Lounge as I write this…but it has an entrance on Federal Street and the indoor sit-down restaurant sits behind the right field bleachers. Unfortunately with the new standing room space added there isn’t much of view of the field these days, but it’s still a pleasant atmosphere.

Menu items include Pittsburgh-style salads, the “pulled pork pierogie hoagie” with pork, potato and cheese pierogies with crispy onions on a bun, and for health nuts a vegan burger with secret sauce. Lots of vegan and gluten-free choices here in fact…it’s a good place to get your healthy grub on.

There’s great brews and Jim Beam drinks available, and best of all, drink prices drop significantly after the game.

 

pnc park restaurants atrias

It may get crowded, but hey…Iron City beer.

PNC Park Restaurants, #2) Atria’s. Atria’s is a sports bar with several locations in Pittsburgh; their PNC outpost is a small tavern inside but has tables and bartenders on the Federal Street sidewalk. Before games you can get a beer on Federal Street that is not cheap but cheaper than it will be during the game.

Atria’s menu is tavern-style grub; burgers, steak and seafood entrees, etc. Most people in the online universe are happy with the size of the burgers. There are TVs in the bar if you’d like to watch the game from there.

Pro tip! The Pirates give out a free program called “Inside Pitch”…check your program for coupons for Atria’s or other nearby joints.

NOTE FROM KURT: I’ve recently learned that Atria’s has departed from their PNC Park location, I don’t yet know what is replacing it. Will update this when I can…

 

pnc park restaurants slice on broadway

Is there a food on earth that looks more enticing on display?

PNC Park Restaurants, #3) Slice On Broadway. South Hills-based Slice replaced Diamond as the PNC Park pizza shop in 2016; and it was a good choice. Slice’s New York-style pizza has been voted Best Pizza in Pittsburgh by several periodicals, including Pittsburgh Magazine.

It looks just like any pizza shop, but the slices are large and tasty, and they have other terrific menu items like strombolis and hoagies. If you go before the ballpark’s gates open, it’s priced very reasonably, but with an entrance into the ballpark, you can go there for a slice during the game in a ballpark strangely devoid of a pizza stand. (They serve Fox’s pizza den inside, but it isn’t heavily advertised.)

Unfortunately prices rise after the ballpark gates open, but Slice is well worth a visit if you’re a pizza fan.

 

pnc park restaurants steel cactus

If you get it to go, skip the salsa…

PNC Park Restaurants, #4) Steel Cactus. Didn’t mean to put Steel Cactus last, since they’re perfectly good. Steel Cactus gives baseball fans what they need at PNC; a burritos and tacos option. The Federal Street entrance leads to a full restaurant and bar, and you have a choice of burritos and tacos with an impressive selection of stuffings.

It’s probably not a place to go if you’re looking for the most authentic Mexican food experience, but for a pre- or post-game meal it’s more than adequate. Burritos are nicely sized and reasonably priced and they have tasty salsas.

Steel Cactus is mostly a sit-down restaurant, but they do have a window in Highmark Legacy Square where you can order a burrito.

 

There’s some of what you need to know about the Federal Street restaurants at PNC Park, a lesser known part of the Pittsburgh baseball experience.

Want to know more about PNC Park? Sign up here for my completely free PNC Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

PNC Park With Kids – 3 Things to Know

Posted by Kurt Smith

Doing PNC Park with kids? Great idea…it’s a great time to expose them to baseball in one of the planet’s most beautiful settings for it. When the Pirates are competitive, it’s plenty exciting, but it’s a pretty fun experience (and cheaper) even when the Bucs linger near the bottom of the NL Central.

If you’re bringing the kids to PNC Park, here are a few things you should know about.

 

pnc park with kids sundays

Oh no, this isn’t nightmare fuel…yeesh.

PNC Park With Kids, Tip #1) Go on Sunday. Sunday is by far the best day of the week for kids at PNC. Federal Street north of the ballpark is already closed to traffic, and on Sunday it becomes the Giant Eagle Fan Zone, with inflatable rides, face painting and a bunch of other stuff for the kids.

Sundays are also kids run the bases days, where the little ones can run around the infield after the game. This is a very popular promotion, which brings me to PNC Park With Kids Tip #2…

 

pnc park with kids club

I’m so proud of my little Bucaroo…

PNC Park With Kids, Tip #2) Join the Bucaroos. By all means have your kid enrolled in the Pirates Bucaroos fan club. There are free memberships that include tickets and buy-one-get-one offers, but the paid membership is well worth the few extra bucks: four tickets and front of the line privileges on run the bases days.

The kids also get cool Pirates stuff like a bedroom sign and parrot blanket with the paid membership. They’ll treasure it forever.

 

pnc park with kids play area

It’s more popular than it looks. I was early.

PNC Park With Kids, Tip #3) The Kids Play Area. The Pirates have built a respectable kids play area in the right field corner of the ballpark (keep this in mind choosing seats, incidentally). There’s a wiffle ball field and slides and such, and it’s a place where the kids can burn off energy before the game. If you want to be the first ones there, try going in through the much lesser used right field gate.

Oh, one other thing…don’t forget that there’s a Bucaroos food stand in the left field corner, with smaller portions and prices for kids. Bonus tip at no extra charge!

 

There you go…some helpful things to know for your next Pirates game with the little ones.Stay tuned for more tips, I got a million of ’em.

Want to know more about PNC Park? Sign up here for my completely free PNC Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

Visiting PNC Park – Five Tips For Newbies

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you’re visiting PNC Park for the first time, there are, as with every ballpark, some things you need to know. PNC Park is one of the best ballparks in America and a popular ballpark chaser destination, so here are some ways to save yourself time, money and aggravation when you go.

 

visiting pnc park box office

Lady, no need to use the phone, the ticket window is right next to you.

Visiting PNC Park, Tip #1: Consider the demand for tickets. The Pirates draw pretty well when they have a decent team on the field. And PNC is a pretty decent draw even when the Pirates aren’t that great.

For midsummer weekend games, you’ll probably be better off buying through the team (sign up for the Pirates’ ticket alert newsletter and keep an eye out for no-fee days, the Pirates do have them), but during the week against a team other than the Cubs, you should be able to find a deal on SeatGeek. (Legal bit…this is an affiliate link.)

There is a “scalp-free zone” at PNC Park, but I’ve never seen anyone selling tickets there, so you would probably have to patronize the legitimate scalpers (joke) if you are out of luck at the box office.

 

visiting pnc park view from infield

The people in the outfield seats miss this…

Visiting PNC Park, Tip #2: Stay in the infield. The outfield seats are OK at PNC; there’s a nice view of the river and bridges if you turn your head, and it’s close to Manny’s and other cool eats.

But you’ll definitely want to be in the infield here, between the bases if at all possible, because of the stellar view of the Clemente Bridge and downtown Pittsburgh. I know you’re not at a ballgame to see a nice view, but it’s worth it, trust me. Pictures do not do the scene justice. Lower or upper level doesn’t really matter, the view from the infield is stellar.

 

visiting pnc park parking downtown

Well worth the extra walk.

Visiting PNC Park, Tip #3: Park your car downtown. If you don’t mind a short walk, the parking lots in the “Point” section of Pittsburgh are cheaper than the lots on the North Shore closer to the ballpark.

The lot at Fort Duquesne and Sixth is right at the foot of the Clemente Bridge, and usually has spots if you’re early enough. Again, it’s a bit of a walk, but the view of the inside of PNC Park from the bridge is utterly spectacular, the best ballpark approach I can think of. It’s equally stunning at night, with the blue “PNC Park” letters reflecting on the water. Extra bonus: there are cheap vendors of peanuts, water and T-shirts at the foot of the bridge as well.

 

PNC park tips steel cactus

We covered this burrito with green salsa just in case you were thinking of using your hands.

Visiting PNC Park, Tip #4: Try the connected restaurants. Primanti Bros. sandwiches are great, but they tend to be better and cheaper at various Primanti locations in the city, so only get that if it’s your only opportunity to do it in the Burgh. Chickie’s and Pete’s fries are popular too, but leave that for Philly.

In the restaurant under the scoreboard (currently the Jim Beam Left Field Lounge as I write this), you have some great choices of Pittsburgh-themed foods like the “Burgh Style Greens” salad, and less expensive drinks after the game.

But there are other restaurants attached to the ballpark on Federal Street, and they’re all good…the pizza from Slice On Broadway is excellent and Steel Cactus makes a great and hefty burrito. And you get a little more bang for your buck, except during the game when the price at Slice goes up.

 

visiting pnc park baseball joe

The biggest baseball fan you’ll ever meet.

Visiting PNC Park, Tip #5: Check out Baseball Joe. I promise you, you’ve never met a bigger Pirates or even baseball fan than “Baseball Joe” Vogel. Despite being rendered deaf and mute from three strokes, he still manages to attend every Pirates home game, as he has since he was a young boy.

Baseball Joe sits in the covered section just above the out-of-town scoreboard in right field, and communicates with fans through a small keyboard he carries around. He is the biggest baseball fan anywhere…don’t even mention other sports to him. Joe loves to meet other baseball fans…you can tell him I sent you. Read more about Baseball Joe here.

There you go, five tips for visiting PNC Park in Pittsburgh. There’s other things to know about, like the free subway ride from downtown or the BRGR Abso-Bac’n-Lutely burger, and the statues of Pops and Maz.

One thing you probably do know is that PNC is one of the best ballparks in America…you probably won’t argue the point when you go.

Want to know more about PNC Park? Sign up here for my completely free PNC Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

PNC Park Seating: 2 Helpful Tips

Posted by Kurt Smith

You don’t have to break the bank to pick something great from the PNC Park seating chart. Despite that the Pirates have become contenders again, and they play in a gorgeous ballpark, their best seats are still among the cheaper great seats in baseball. Here are a couple of helpful tips…

pnc park seating panorama

Now that’s a view.

PNC Park Seating Tip #1: Go for the third base side. From the third base side is the best spot to enjoy that tremendous view of downtown Pittsburgh.

You should get closer to home plate if you can, because the Roberto Clemente Bridge is an important part of that backdrop. It’s not that you’ll miss much on the first base side, but between third and home is ideal. The view may be the one aspect of this ballpark that puts it a class above most ballparks in the major leagues.

Incidentally, it’s the best place to be on fireworks nights, too.

Just one caveat though: because of the orientation of the field, PNC gets the most sunlight on the third base side at dusk. Not necessarily a bad thing on a cool night in April, just bring sunscreen and sunglasses in the summertime.

 

pnc park seating model club level

Love models like this. It makes me want to be a tiny person.

PNC Park Seating Tip #2: Splurge For The Club Level. Not only are Pirates tickets among the cheaper ones in the major leagues, they’re inexpensive at just about every level, including premium seats. If there is a ballpark where the prime seats are worth splurging for, PNC is it.

The Club Level seats at PNC are the lower rows in the second deck, which in this ballpark is very close to the action, the designers having smartly tucked the luxury boxes under the second deck. They are also padded and a bit wider than the seats above them.

But the best part of the Club seats is the access to the Pittsburgh Baseball Club, the climate-controlled club level concourse. This is where you find the premium food options, like the Score Amore, the PBC Grill, and the Bucs Wok, a very popular stand serving Asian food. The Club Level also has lounges with full bars and pool tables, like the Club 3000 and the Keystone Corner.

pnc park seating club restaurant

Team must not be winning.

The Club seats would probably be best in April, when it can get pretty chilly in Pittsburgh. You can find seats at a price you’ll very much like during the early cold months too, if you look around on StubHub or eBay.

And you can go to the game early, use a private entrance, walk around a warm carpeted concourse and help yourself to a huge meatball sandwich and a popular craft beer and shoot some pool before the game starts. Anytime it gets too cold, head back inside and watch an inning on TV.

Many people automatically think that they won’t be able to afford the fancy extras at the ballpark, and that’s not always the case. Especially with PNC Park seating.

Want to know more about PNC Park? Sign up here for my completely free PNC Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

PNC Park Parking – 3 Cheap And Smart Spots

Posted by Kurt Smith

When you’re headed to a Pirates game and are searching for PNC Park parking, you have an abundance of choices, but most of the lots near the ballpark aren’t cheap and/or are set aside for pre-paid parking and season ticket holders.

Fortunately, if you want to go for cheap PNC Park parking, Ballpark E-Guides has a few cool suggestions for you.

 

pnc park parking view from bridge

You should see this in person.

1) The Fort Duquesne and Sixth Garage. It’s relatively cheap, it’s the closest garage in the downtown “Point” section of the city, and you can enjoy an absolutely stunning view of a beautiful ballpark walking across the Clemente Bridge (which is closed off to vehicular traffic on game days).

And you can get cheap peanuts, drinks and souvenirs from vendors right at the foot of the Bridge.

 

pnc park parking first avenue garage

Hint: North Shore features PNC Park!

2) The First Avenue Garage. I discovered this one recently and noticed quite a few Pirates employees using it, so I know it’s a smart choice. It’s a small few bucks to park here, and you can use an elevator to get dropped off right at the platform of the First Avenue Port Authority “T” station…from which you can ride for free to North Shore, literally across the street from the PNC front gate.

Low price, very little walking, and a super easy out after the game back on the highway.

 

pnc park parking rivers casino

Gamble on a cheap spot!

3) The Rivers Casino. I’ve heard differing accounts on whether it costs anything to park here for a Pirates game. According to the casino’s website you pay the event rate four hours before the game, but it’s reimbursed to you if you dine or gamble there. But I’ve also heard plenty of people say they’ve parked for free here; I presume it would be free before the game rate kicks in.

There’s nothing wrong with the walk from here, with a nice waterfront pathway that goes past several great eateries like Burgatory. But if you’re tired you can hop on the free T from Allegheny Station to North Shore.

That’s just three cool PNC Park parking options, but you can arrive at PNC almost any way you want…by bus, by boat, or even a bicycle…stay tuned.

Want to know more about PNC Park? Sign up here for my completely free PNC Park e-mail newsletter series, and score some seriously valuable info about tickets, seating, transportation and food…see you at the Yard!

PNC Park Food: 3 Things To Try

Posted by Kurt Smith

The PNC Park food menu, like at most ballparks, reflects its hometown. There is something special about the way Pittsburghers do sandwiches, for example. There are no rules.

I’m not sure why this is some sort of thing that is somewhat unique to Pittsburgh, but the home of the Pirates is starting to reflect this in a big way, and like at most ballparks these days, fans can sample great local favorites without leaving the venue.

 

pnc park food primanti bros

Want fries with that?

PNC Park Food Tip #1: The Primanti Bros. Sandwich. Some locals will tell you that the iconic Primanti Bros. sandwich is not as great at the ballpark as it is at the several Primanti locations around the Burgh. Less food for your dollar and the slaw is less tasty, I’ve read. If you believe that, by all means try a Primanti Bros. location elsewhere.

But if you don’t have that option, the Primanti sandwich is a classic taste of Pittsburgh at the game.

I’ll describe the sandwich for you. At PNC Park you have a choice of steak, capicola or roast beef, covered with cheese and on airy Italian bread. French fries and Cole slaw are included, and they just happen to be piled into the sandwich.

It is indeed a unique and delicious sandwich. I do recommend sitting down at a nearby picnic table to eat one though. If you eat it at your seat you’ll be picking fries out of your lap, and that just isn’t baseball.

 

pnc park food quaker steak

Why doesn’t Quaker State offer these at their oil change locations? Actually, scratch that idea.

PNC Park Food Tip #2: Quaker Steak Boneless Wings. Quaker Steak’s logo is similar to Quaker State Motor Oil’s, big and green with white lettering, so you can’t miss it. I’m fairly sure they don’t use Quaker State oil for cooking wings though, or their wings might not be as popular.

Quaker Steak has boneless wings in any of several flavors; last I checked the flavors were “Louisiana Lickers”, “Arizona Ranch”, “BBQ”, in hot or medium. You can get a large bucket of them to share, although at ballpark prices you may think it costs an awful lot for wings.

The bleu cheese sauces aren’t included and cost a tiny bit extra, so if you like bleu cheese keep this in mind, because the cup of cheese is fairly small and you may need more than one.

Quaker Steak & Lube is in Smorgasburgh near Primanti Bros., and there’s an outdoor picnic area nearby where you can reduce the risk of wing sauce on your Pirates jersey.

 

pnc park food brgr

Absolutely.

PNC Park Food Tip #3: The Abso-Bac’N-Lutely Burger. The fine folks at BRGR have a couple of popular burger joints in Eastside and Cranberry, and they’ll sometimes have a food truck on Federal Street before games with cheaper eats than inside.

This burger isn’t the type of goofball burger with froot loops or whatever that you see at ballparks these days. It’s simple and necessary…a fresh patty with bacon, lettuce, tomato and your choice of cheese. It’s also a nice-sized thing, and messy enough to sit at a nearby table to finish.

Best of all, BRGR has great milkshakes to go with it. Like McDonald’s but without the suspicious dollar menu.

That’s just a few food items in PNC Park; but there’s also the Angus burgers at Manny’s, the Pierogi Stacker, the Reuben dog and much much more…think ahead.

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Best Ballpark In Baseball – PNC Park?

Posted by Kurt Smith

Calling PNC Park in Pittsburgh the best ballpark in baseball doesn’t offend too many people. At the gorgeous home of the Pirates, you will often see signs around the ballpark proclaiming it to be “The Best Ballpark in America”. As far as I know, there’s no outrage about this from fans of other ballparks.

What if the Cubs put such signs around the outside of Wrigley Field? Might Red Sox fans sneer a little bit? And vice versa, if signs appeared around Fenway Park proclaiming it to be the best ballpark in the country, would that not get a reaction from Cubs fans? Just a thought.

As someone who has visited a few ballparks but not all of them, I can say that while the question of whether PNC Park is the “best ballpark in baseball” may be debatable, one wouldn’t have too much trouble making the case.

There’s a lot of obvious things to love about PNC. The view, for one.

 

best ballpark in baseball pnc view

It’s the bridge. The bridge makes it.

From almost any section in the ballpark there is the stunning vista of the downtown Point area of Pittsburgh, linked to the ballpark itself by the Roberto Clemente Bridge painted in Pirates/Steelers/Penguins gold, crossing the Allegheny River.

And the approach to the ballpark from downtown is as classic baseball as it gets—a walk across the Clemente Bridge past vendors hawking snacks and apparel, with the open air and dark blue seats in full view while crossing the Allegheny River by foot. Few ballparks if any could match that.

 

best ballpark in baseball clemente bridge

I would pay for this view, but don’t tell the city that.

Then there’s the ballpark itself—Kasota limestone on the outside; the statues of Bucs greats Clemente, Stargell, Wagner and Maz; the rotunda in left field with views of the ballpark and the city; and the intimacy of just 38,000 seats, painted dark blue in homage to Forbes Field.

And there are some not so obvious things too. There’s the matter of the price of tickets, which may not be a fair attribute to discuss given that the Bucs didn’t secure a winning season there until 2013.

 

best ballpark in baseball pnc

Best ballpark in baseball? Not even a discussion? Wrigley? AT&T?

But poor performance on the field didn’t stop the Cubs from charging a chunk of change to get into the ballpark for many years. From the most to least expensive seats, Pirates games are competitive in price with any team in baseball.

The architects of PNC Park did a tremendous job building intimacy into the place. The ballpark was not only built with a small amount of seats, it was done without raising the upper level to nosebleed height as it is in many new ballparks. The Pirates brag that the highest seat is only 88 feet from the field, and there’s no question that you’re still on top of the action even in the upper deck. This is something that no ballpark built since has achieved, at least none of the ones that I have visited.

 

best ballpark in baseball pulled pork pierogi stacker

Sure, you could have thought of pierogies in a pulled pork sandwich. But you didn’t.

There’s food selections of all kinds, from the venerable Pittsburgh favorite Primanti Bros. to Chickie’s and Pete’s fries to the new BRGR burger joint. You may not necessarily love the idea of a pulled pork sandwich with pierogies on it, but you can’t deny the Pittsburgh-ness of that. And there’s Iron City beer…nothing makes a ballpark like a bad local beer.

Finally, I’ve been to ballparks with better food and better access. But PNC is pretty easy to get to by car, and you have the option of using a bus, train or even a boat. Heck, you could ride a bicycle there along the Riverwalk and that would be pretty cool.

But to this observer that isn’t all that important. It’s not easy to get to Wrigley Field, but I don’t care once I see the ivy and ancient scoreboard. And when in Fenway Park, a Fenway Frank tastes as good as any gourmet meal anywhere else.

I have yet to see AT&T Park, Safeco Field, Target Field or Coors Field, all of which have been touted as the best in America. Of the ballparks I have visited, I’m partial to Camden Yards, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park—and without doubt, PNC Park in Pittsburgh. On almost every level, PNC is as good as or better than all of them.

So if you ask the writer of Ballpark E-Guides whether PNC Park is the Best Ballpark in Baseball, my answer is: if you think so, I won’t argue with you.

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3 Odd Games At PNC Park

Posted by Kurt Smith

I’ve seen three games at PNC Park, and I’ve seen unusual things at all three of them.

I first visited PNC Park in the year of its opening, August of 2001. Five years later, I would take my then girlfriend (now wife) on our first date anniversary, and five years later I would visit again for the fact-finding mission of the PNC Park E-Guide.

 

games at pnc park front gate

Pittsburgh Kasota limestone.

My first game saw the Pirates against the Arizona Diamondbacks, August 23, 2001. Pitching for the D-Backs was none other than Randy Johnson, one of the most dominant pitchers of his or any era. Johnson and the Diamondbacks would become the World Champions that year in one of the greatest World Series ever played; he and Curt Schilling would be named co-MVPs.

At the time Johnson was on the verge of history. He needed 13 strikeouts to become the first pitcher in history to record 300 strikeouts for four straight seasons. 13 is a lot in one game though, so I imagined the odds of my witnessing this were slim.

Well The Big Unit struck out the side in the first, recorded one in the second, and struck out the side again in the third. After five innings he was up to ten, and in the sixth he sealed the deal, striking out the side again to reach the magic 13. He would record three more in the seventh to make it 16—but he also surrendered four runs that inning.

What’s unusual wasn’t so much that he struck out 16—although that is extremely impressive—but that he lost doing it. Only Mark Prior has equaled that number of Ks in a game that I have been present to witness. (Prior ended up with a no decision in a Cubs defeat.)

 

games at pnc park clemente bridge

Didn’t have All-Star tickets, unfortunately. But Pittsburgh dressed nice for the occasion.

In June of 2006 I presented my now-wife Suzanne with our dating-for-one-year anniversary gift—a trip to Pittsburgh with a stop at Hershey Park on the way.

Despite her not being the slightest bit of a baseball fan, I thought she would enjoy a game at PNC Park if I added a view from the top of the Duquesne Incline. I was right. This was the year that the All-Star Game was in Pittsburgh, and we visited the week before the game, so banners were everywhere celebrating baseball’s showcase coming to Steel City.

We sat behind home plate on July 1, 2006, for an interleague matchup between the Pirates and Detroit Tigers. The Pirates were dead last with a 27-54 record…a frustrating .333 winning percentage. The Tigers on the other hand were just the opposite: 55-25 and in first place in the AL Central going into the game.

Tom Gorzelanny for the Bucs and Jeremy Bonderman for the Tigers battled effectively for five innings; both were pulled with the score 2-2. Then after the 7th-inning stretch, the weirdness started. Here is the play-by-play of the bottom of the seventh inning from Baseball Reference:

N. McClouth – ground ball single to center.
J. Bautista – ground ball single to left, McClouth to third.
J. Wilson – strikeout, swinging.
S. Casey – line drive single to center, McClouth scores, Bautista to third.
J. Bay – fielder’s choice, Bautista scores on E5, Casey to second.
F. Sanchez – Reached on E3, Casey to third, Bay to second.
J. Burnitz – Reached on E4, Casey scores, Bay scores, Sanchez to third.
J. Castillo – Doubled to center, Sanchez scores, Burnitz to third.
R. Paulino – Ground ball single to left, Burnitz scores, Castillo scores.
N. McClouth – Flied out to left.
J. Bautista – Popped out to first

Now, I was there. The Pirates batted around and scored seven runs in the inning, and I can tell you that the only hard hit ball of all eleven at-bats was Castillo’s double.

 

games at pnc park detroit

What kind of Mickey Mouse defense is this?

Seven runs on four hits and three Tiger errors…six of the runs unearned. It was undoubtedly the strangest half-inning I’d ever seen. The Pirates fans sure didn’t seem to mind, but the few Tigers fans I saw there had to be shaking their heads at that one.

That would be the final: Pirates 9, Tigers 2.

In September of last year I visited Pittsburgh with the wife again, this time on the fact-finding mission for the PNC Park E-Guide. The wife, despite being four months pregnant, was quite the sport about joining me in Pittsburgh and for the tour of PNC Park we did in the morning. She wasn’t up to the game, which was just as well, since I spent much of it roaming the ballpark taking photos.

I managed to get the needed photos early, and was able to sit and enjoy the contest, which I don’t often get to do on these missions. It was Saturday, September 10, and the Pirates took on the Marlins in front of a crowd of 34,000.

Jeff Locke performed fairly admirably for the Pirates, allowing five hits and giving up a three-spot in the third with a couple of walks and a base hit. For the rest of the game, Chris Leroux, Chris Resop and Jose Veras would blank the Marlins.

 

games at pnc park pierogi race

Glad to see they’ve achieved parity in the Pierogi Race.

Unfortunately, only Neil Walker could manage a hit against Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez, who pitched a one-hitter and walked only three.

Sanchez had pitched a no-hitter before, in 2006 against the Diamondbacks, so despite his nearly .500 lifetime record as a pitcher, he is prone to instances of single game brilliance. In this game he struck out 11, and was more or less untouchable after Walker’s double in the second. Final score: Marlins 3, Pirates zip.

Pirates fans, as I remember, did not celebrate his performance as opposing fans sometimes do for high achievement, perhaps partly because the loss dropped the Bucs to a 66-79 record after a promising first half of the season. There was also a post-game fireworks show, so perhaps they had other things on their mind, like finding a better seat for the show.

So in three games at PNC Park, I’ve seen a strikeout record get broken, a one-hitter, and seven runs scored in one inning through nearly zero offensive might. And a very cool fireworks display.

I guess something about my presence at PNC Park delights the baseball gods. Far be it for me to complain.

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Keeping Up With Baseball Joe

Posted by Kurt Smith

I first met Baseball Joe Vogel on June 12, 2016, while meeting up with friend and fellow baseball road tripper Dan Davies and his group of traveling friends, who invited me to join them in Pittsburgh.

It was a picture-perfect day at stunning PNC Park, as the Pirates prepared to battle the Cardinals in a late afternoon matchup.

On this day, though, baseball isn’t the only thing on the mind of the Bucs faithful.

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are in San Jose this evening, set to seal the deal on a fourth Stanley Cup for the city. Which they would, a few hours after the ballgame ends. Penguins jerseys, tees and caps can be seen in large numbers for a baseball crowd.

At one point during the game, a young fan brings out a mock, almost-life-size aluminum foil Stanley Cup and parades it proudly around a section in the right field corner. It gets a round of sustained applause from the excited fans sitting in the area.

But despite being a Pittsburgh native from birth, Joe Vogel is having none of this.

Without warning, as if duty calls him, he springs from his chair in the right field cove and disappears into the concourse. Seconds later he can be seen roaming the section where the Cup-carrying fan was. To the great amusement of his buddies in the cove, Vogel spends several minutes determinedly searching for the fan, who by this point is long gone.

The laughter in Vogel’s section grows louder as his determined search continues well beyond the amount of time one would think the situation warranted. Because after several innings of sitting with this character, they know exactly why he is seeking out the proud hockey fan.

It was to shame him. To frown on him. To educate the young lad on priorities.

Because as Baseball Joe Vogel will always let you know, only baseball matters. Every other sport is a waste of time.

 

baseball joe pirates

The only fan that can throw a baseball around in a concourse and get away with it.

Baseball Joe is deaf and mute from three debilitating strokes. He communicates through gestures and hand signals, with a small keyboard, or on a folded piece of paper with the alphabet on it.

He lives in an apartment in downtown Pittsburgh, a short walk across the Clemente Bridge from PNC Park. Baseball, Pirates baseball, is his life. It has been since he was a young boy. He proclaims himself the “biggest baseball fan anywhere”, and thus far in my near half century of existence I haven’t met a bigger one…which, if you knew my father, is saying something.

The Pirates know him well. He occasionally plays catch with manager Clint Hurdle and even advises him at times via e-mail. Courtesy of a team that loves his dedication, he has season tickets and attends every game in the covered handicapped section in right field, underneath the right field bleachers. He can’t be in the sun for too long. He may be the only fan in PNC Park who doesn’t care about the picturesque city backdrop.

Sitting with him, it’s almost impossible to pay attention to the game, especially as opposing hitters tee off on Pirates pitching as the Cards would that night. Baseball Joe is every bit as entertaining as the action on the field…constantly having conversations with bystanders in his own way, patiently communicating with his keyboard or well-worn piece of paper when people have difficulty understanding his gestures. He carries a baseball that he frequently tosses to passing ushers, who nonchalantly toss it back to him, knowing the routine. Throughout the game, other team employees stop to greet him. He constantly collects souvenirs and seems to have a never-ending supply of the large soda cups, one of which he shares with me.

 

baseball joe PNC Park

Baseball Joe with his essential ballgame supplies.

Throughout the evening loud laughter is heard in the section at both his knowledge of baseball and his chastising of fellow fans for their comparatively insufficient reverence for the game.

At one point, he asks me if I like any other sports. Forgetting his disdain for the hockey fan, I tell him I like NASCAR too, and he shakes his head. He pretends to be driving a car, and then frowns at me and does the shame symbol with his fingers. He then holds up a baseball and makes a circular motion with his finger. By this point it’s understood. Baseball, year-round.

All night long, it never stops. With his keypad, he fires baseball trivia questions at his buddies…like “Name two players in the Hall of Fame that have the same first and middle names.” A wiseacre in the group replies, with great bombast as if he’s sure of the answer, “Ken Griffey Senior and Ken Griffey Junior!”

As the rest of the group laughs, Joe smiles, turns to me and informs me: Henry Louis Aaron and Henry Louis Gehrig, or Joseph Paul DiMaggio and Joseph Paul Torre.

Later Dan, who took Joe along with his group to several ballparks and the Hall of Fame, told me the story of his wiping up the floor with an interactive trivia game at the Hall. If there was a baseball edition of “Jeopardy”, Baseball Joe would be Ken Jennings.

 

PNC Park Front gate

Home of Baseball Joe.

Baseball Joe holds the distinction of being the first fan to ask for my autograph, at least as an author of baseball books.

At the Pirates game, he asked me to send him the PNC Park E-Guide…and to autograph it for him. He also gave me firm instructions…make sure I sign my full name, middle name included, and do it neatly, which I am not accustomed to doing with my usual chicken scratch of a signature. He’s a stickler, this one, especially when it comes to matters baseball.

Joe loved the E-Guide and raved about it to me in an e-mail…a badge of honor…but he also had a few suggestions: elaborate more on seating, include some photos in the whitespace, and maybe talk more about food and such. He is the first fan ever to complain to me that there isn’t enough information in a Ballpark E-Guide.

He has been repeatedly asking me to send him guides for Wrigley and for Busch in St. Louis, should I ever write that one. I will. I’m always happy to have an audience.

 

citizens bank park philly

Citizens Bank Park from the west.

A few days after the Pittsburgh experience, I met up with Baseball Joe and the group again, this time in Citizens Bank Park in my hometown of Philly. I found them a free parking spot and sat with them in the upper level for the evening. Throughout the evening, Joe kept me entertained, once again more often than the action on the field.

I tell him I am an Orioles fan, and he holds up fingers…first seven and then one. I immediately get it. 1971 World Series. Pirates over the Birds in seven. I was three.

Then he makes a “7” and a “9” with his fingers. 1979. The Pirates, led by Pops Stargell and rallying around the passing of manager Chuck Tanner’s mother, come back from 3-1 to once again beat the O’s in seven games. My response is to hang my head and to pretend to rub tears from my eyes, illustrating the heartbreak of the 11-year-old Orioles fan that year. “I still NEVER dance to ‘We Are Family’”, I inform him.

He nods, understanding. He does the eye rub himself when he brings up the Pirates’ long stretch of down years.

He asks me who my favorite player is, and when I say Cal Ripken Jr., he quickly replies on his keyboard with a stat for me: “Lowest batting average of any player with 3,000 hits”. Sigh.

When I show Joe a picture of my daughter posing with baseball-themed stuffed animals that I’ve brought home for her from my travels, he briefly types on his keyboard and shows me. “You so blessed,” it reads. “Me haves no family.”

I instantly feel both sad for him and guilty about the occasional dissatisfaction I feel with my own life. He’s right. I am so blessed. I not only have two beautiful and healthy kids, I still have time for the only sport that matters.

 

baseball joe

Baseball’s #1 fan.

Long after the crowd has filed out of Citizens Bank Park that night, Baseball Joe manages to make a few ushers uncomfortable with his refusal to leave the seating bowl before collecting as many souvenir cups as he can. You can see clear agitation growing in the ushers’ eyes as they anticipate a confrontation. Joe seems oblivious to the approaching ballpark police, but he exits the seating bowl at what seems the exact moment before the ushers turn snooty. He’s a pro at this.

Back at the hotel where the traveling fans are staying, Baseball Joe and I pose for a picture, and he surprises me with a huge bear hug. Apparently I’ve made a good impression. I’m grateful that he’s not upset with me for showing him family photos.

Joe and I e-mail each other frequently. In his e-mails to me the subject line is almost always “Baseball 24 7 366”—making sure he’s covered in leap years. His e-mails are usually brief but always thoughtful…wishing my family a great holiday season, asking me to send along more E-Guides when I can, and sharing his thoughts on the Pirates’ fortunes. Shortly after the Pirates failed to make the playoffs in 2016, he sent me an e-mail with the words “Pirates eliminated – me cry” in it. For 33 years and counting, this Orioles fan has known the feeling.

I’m always grateful to hear from him. Because whenever I reflect on it, he’s right. Other sports are a waste of time.

And Baseball Joe knows as well as anyone that our time is too valuable to waste.