Monday, July 13, 2009

Pittsburgh Baseball: Bad team, Great ballpark

Twelve voters have cast their ballots to date in the "Ballpark Poll" on this site, and PNC Park is the clear leader so far with 7 votes. As a lot of the visitors to this site hail from the east coast and lake region/midwest, it is not overly surprising that there have been more than a few visits to PNC. Over 50% of the voters chose PNC as one of their top three selections (me included).

I saw a game at PNC Park last year against the Mets in August with Pedro on the mound. The stadium was pretty near capacity and had a great atmosphere. My favorite things about PNC Park were:

1. Great bars outside. There are a few nice bars right outside the ball park entrance with outdoor seating. Compare this to Yankee Stadium (my local park), where all the bars are dark, dingy, and under the elevated subway train tracks, and Pittsburgh suddenly looks like Nirvana.

2. Souvenir ball chances. It is really easy at PNC to wander into the left field outfield stands during BP and maybe grab a fly ball. At Yankee Stadium, they have ticket-checkers at every possible junction and aisle to make sure your papers are in order and prevent seat-hopping. Phooey.

3. Great food. Primanti Brothers' Pittsburgh Style Pastrami Sandwich: fries right on your sandwich! A heart-attack special, but totally delicious. I understand you can also get some Polish specialties -- pierogies!, kielbasa! -- but I don't remember seeing them when I was there. (There's always next time...)

4. Local beers. Whether local beers are tasty or not does not really matter to me. I just drink them regardless to add to the local experience. There was plenty of Iron City Beer to be had, and a few other kinds that I didn't get to try last visit. Much better than places that sell primarily Budweiser and Bud Light. (Yes, I'm looking at you Yankee Stadium!)

5. It's not really crowded. The NYC ballparks are often times sold-out so seats are hard to come by, and they're really expensive anyways. Seats behind home plate in Pittsburgh are reasonably available and you don't need to sell a kidney to buy a pair.

6. PNC has great views. The city views over the outfield walls are fantastic with those terrific yellow bridges. Also, the open stairway connecting the lower and upper decks in left field makes for a great viewing vantage point from the outfield.

NEXT VISIT >> I am glad to see Citizens Bank Ballpark ranking high (3rd) in the poll, as that is my next planned out-of-town ballgame destination. Either this year or next, I hope to also visit Miller Park (no votes yet?!?) and Kauffman Stadium. Kauffman is 5th on the poll currently, so the stadium must be offering more than mediocre baseball (and I hope it's ribs!!).

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