After trying to see the Washington Nationals play the Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park since 2005 (the visitors won 2 of 3, including the game we attended), this past Saturday my wife and I finally made the trip. Since it opened in 2001, PNC Park has been thougth of as one of the best stadiums in baseball if not all of sports. Having now seen a game there, I don’t think it is possible to understate what an amazing ballpark lies upstream from the confluence of the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh.
There are three things that tend to make a view from a ballpark spectacular: skyline, water and hills/mountains. PNC Park is perfectly situated to show the beautiful Pittsburgh skyline and Allegheny River in all of their glory with Mount Washington visible between the skyscrapers in a few spots. Behind center field, the Roberto Clemente Bridge spans the Allegheny to the Golden Triangle. Many fans eschew parking in stadium lots or using the newly built light rail tunnels to walk over the river to the game. If there is a finer entrance to a baseball stadium, I haven’t heard of it.
Even if PNC Park was just a cookie-cutter stadium (such as the late Three Rivers Stadium) with no outfields stands blocking the view, it would pretty special, but the beauty does not stop there. The exterior of the stadium isn’t concrete or the traditional brick — it’s a vibrant limestone. Along the third base side, there are multiple eateries outside under the structure of the building that opens up the design in addition to giving fans a chace to dine al fresco. The steel work is elegant and painted navy blue, as are the seats. Even the ramps to get to the upper deck slope gently in a octagon design. The stadium also has only two decks, so the upper deck seats are not too high and the ballpark is cozy. The seating capacity is about 38,000 which is pragmatic for a market the size of Pittsburgh. The statues of players don’t even have extra limbs!
I can’t emphasize just how much I love PNC Park, I want to make visit annually when the Nats go there. The venue is so good that you can’t mock somebody for claiming it is one of the best things about the city, because more than any other ballpark I know of, PNC Park celebrates the city and not just its team or its sport.