Pirate Fans: What is Your PNC Park Routine?

The Pittsburgh Pirates will play 54 more baseball games this season. Exactly one-third of the schedule remains.
If you’re like me, you could use a breather—maybe a week’s worth of rainouts, or a few Steelers games—to break up the monotony. I’m just not that excited watching games right now.
Rather than write another halfhearted post about a miserable offense or an overpriced starting pitcher, let me go off the field this morning—or, actually, to the field.
I received an e-mail I could use your help in answering:

A couple of friends and I are heading off for a baseball trip August 18th. We’re starting things off that night in Pittsburgh vs. Philly.
I’ve been to Pitt several times and almost went to college there, but I’ve never made it to PNC Park and have wanted to since it was built. I was wondering if you have any recommendations; like what bars are great for game day, and/or where’s a good cost-effective place to grab a bite.

Help a brother out: What’s your PNC Park routine?

  • As a creature of habit, I’ll park in one of two places. There’s a church not more than a 10-minute walk from the left-field gate that I appreciate for its price. (You can’t beat free.) On occasion—usually when heading to a game straight from class—I’ve parked in a downtown garage and walked across the Clemente Bridge. That view of the ballpark is worth the $10. Never will I pay $20 to park in a stadium lot.
  • A stop at Primanti Bros. is a must—either in the stadium or after the game. The Pittsburgher cheesesteak is one of the best ballpark values in America, and the original restaurant in the Strip is one of my favorite places to eat. As a yinzer gourmet, I know that I.C. Light is the perfect beverage to serve with any Primanti’s sandwich.
  • Best seats in the park: Directly behind home plate, maybe 100 rows back. Close second: Left-field reserved bleachers (the ones right behind the fence next to the bullpens). The first give you a view of the city, the field, the scoreboard—the whole shebang. The bleachers are cost effective, let you interact a bit with the players during batting practice and heckle the opposing relievers in-game.
  • I’m ashamed to say that in the two months I’ve been legal, I’ve yet to booze on the North Shore after a game. I do have a friend, though, whose sister met Wily Mo Pena at Hi-Tops while he was playing for Cincinnati.  Just putting it out there that Wily might like ’em a little young.
  • If I’m in the mood to impress, taking a round-trip ride on the Gateway Clipper Fleet is a great way to get to and from the park. You can fully appreciate the city from her rivers, I think, and Station Square is fun, if expensive.

Any hidden gems I’ve missed? Great place to eat within a reasonable distance of the ballpark? Best bar for the Pittsburgh experience on a Saturday night?
As always, your feedback is appreciated.


5 Responses to “Pirate Fans: What is Your PNC Park Routine?”

  1. Randy Linville Says:

    My brother and I drove over from OH and stay at the Renaissance on 6th street. There is a parking garage right across the street that is cheap. We get there hours before the game. So, it’s like $3 when we arrive. I’m assuming the price goes up closer to game time. Given that we park there for 30 to 36 hours, it is tough to beat $3.
    A couple of doors down from the Ren (near the Bally’s fitness area) is a NY style pizza place whose name is escaping me. $5 for two NY size slices and a soft drink. Tough to beat that. Then we walk across the Clemente bridge.
    Inside the stadium, if you aren’t going to imbibe, you can sign up for a designated driver bracelet and get a free small soft drink. The sign up booth is along the rightfield line almost in the outfield. They also do a prize drawing for all those who sign up. But, I’ve never won. I think the prize is a Pokey Reese jersey. Just kidding.
    We’ve rotated where we sit nearly every year. The only places I wouldn’t recommend are dead left field (under the scoreboard) or down the left field line (too much sun for Sunday afternoon games)
    My personal favorite is behind the plate because the lemonade vendor provides some comedy, although he probably covers the entire lower bowl.
    Not a big after the game drinker. Usually we walk back to the Ren (me with my head held low after another loss), watch sportscenter and/or baseball tonight and play plug-n-play games (sometimes even Intellivision plug-n-play) until we pass out from exhaustion.

  2. Matt Says:

    My routine was developed on a college student’s budget, and has remained the same into my career life-stage:
    -Park at a meter on W Ohio St by West Park, near CCAC campus. Meters are free after 6 PM Mon-Sat and all day Sun. That takes care of most Pirate games.
    -Stop at Gus and Yaya’s for an ice ball if the mood strikes you.
    -Ten minute walk to PNC Park. Behind leftfield hot dogs can be purchased for $2 (along with $2 20 oz. pops, and other similarly priced items). Inside the park (right inside the entrance near the left field foul pole) the Buccaroo’s kids menu is perfect for a tight budget. This won’t fill you up like a Primanti’s sandwich, but it will hold you over for the game.
    -I kind of like seats in section 301. This section might be the farthest from home plate in the park, but it provides a nice view of the river to your right. The breeze up there is also very helpful on 90° afternoon games. And they only cost $9. Sections 101 and 103 are good first level seats for only $20. The right field side of the park generally provides a better view of the game, the left field side gives the better view of the city.
    -I have made very few trips to bars after games, so I wouldn’t be much help there. But I once went to SoHo (outside left field corner) and saw Kips Wells and Ryan Vogelsong. If that means anything.
    Wait ‘Til Next Year

  3. Tony Ferrante Says:

    My son and I will be going to the Aug. 17th game vs. the Phillies. Actually, we aren’t driving 400 miles just to see the Bucs, although I haven’t had the chance to catch a game there since ’02. We’re gonna hit Stillers training camp on the 15th, visit Dad and Mom in Erie and Meadville respectively after that, and then head down to the ‘Burgh on the 17th. Probably go on the PNC Park tour at noon, hit the Strip after that to grab some T-shirts, eat at Primanti’s (my son made a eating bet with me), and then back over to the park. Hopefully Sangy will be at his barbeque pit, I’d love to meet him (just met The Cobra down here last Saturday, by the way). We’re sitting in right center above the Clemente Wall. After crashing in a hotel about a half hour out of town, we’re heading back southeast to catch the Steelers/Skins on the 18th.

  4. thejim Says:

    I almost always park in a garage on the Boulevard of the Allies for about $5. I usually walk through Market Square and go to the Primanti’s or the Max & Erma’s on Stanwix for a few beers and a burger pre-game. Then I walk across the Clemente Bridge (which is closed on gameday) to the park. I like to sit in the right field seats, but if you’re coming from out of town, I’d recommend sitting somewhere behind the plate to get the full effect.
    After the game, Hi-Tops near the park is always busy, but I prefer Bar Louie in Station Square for the nightcap.

  5. Cory Humes Says:

    Thanks for the help, guys.

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