Monday, July 2, 2007

Day 9: PNC Park

All of our photos from PNC Park are available on Flickr.

After a week on the road, Peter and I needed a bit of a rest, so we slept in until about 10 AM this morning. When we finally got on the road it was an easy 2 1/2 hour drive to Pittsburgh. I even managed to stay awake for the whole drive! We got into town about 2:30 and spent our afternoon walking around downtown Pittsburgh. We spent some time relaxing in an elevated park and then walked the streets for about an hour. Next, we headed over to the ballpark. We had some time to kill before it was time to begin our fundraising so we walked around the park and sat down for a beverage at one of the nearby restaurants.

Like most of the major league teams, the Pirates would not allow us to set up inside the stadium, though they did provide us with a pair of complementary tickets. So, we set up our table in the middle of the Roberto Clemente Bridge that links downtown to the stadium. It was a terrific spot since most people park downtown rather than pay the steep prices near the stadium and walk across the bridge. We set a new high for Major League stadiums, raising $56 for the Pittsburgh Habitat affiliate.

Having spent some time walking around the outside, and being very impressed by what we saw, we were very excited to get inside PNC Park. The outside was just as spectacular as the inside. We walked in the Right Field gate and were greeted by about a dozen bronze statues of Negro Leagues legends. We then headed towards Center Field and along the way passed both bullpens which were only separated from the fans by a low concrete wall. We had an excellent view of Brewers starter Jeff Suppan warming up and shouted some encouraging words. PNC Park has an unusual concourse with the outfield walkways at a lower level than the rest of the main concourse.

Along the walk to our fabulous seats we passed a wide variety of food vendors. There was a seafood stand, a Quaker Steak & Lube stand that sold hot wings, an ice cream stand, and a sandwich stand, as well as those that sold the standard ballpark fair of hot dogs, soda, and beer.

The game started out with both teams scratching out runs. The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st on a misplayed ball by Geoff Jenkins, followed by an RBI single by Freddy Sanchez. The Brewers then capitalized on 2 walks and Damien Miller drove in his first run of the game in the top of the 2nd. After the Pirates scored again in the bottom of the 3rd, Miller came to bat in the top of the 4th with 1 on and hit his 2nd home run of the season, putting the Brewers up 3-2. The Pirates tied it with 1 in the bottom of the 5th but the Brewers put it away with a 7 run 7th inning. The highlight of the inning was Miller's second home run of the evening. With Prince Fielder already on 3rd and Bill Hall on 2nd, the Pirates elected to walk slugger Geoff Jenkins and pitch to Miller. Miller made them pay with a Grand Slam. Carlos Villanueva closed the door with 4 shutout innings in relief of starter Jeff Suppan.

Overall, PNC Park was outstanding - great views both to the field and to the city, a wide variety of food, most of it good, and a Brewers win. So far, this was my favorite stadium.

We were going to head to Rochester, NY sometime tomorrow morning, but with the Brewers in town and a 4:05 ET start tomorrow, we're going to hang around and try to catch one more game at PNC Park. Then, we'll head for Rochester tomorrow evening.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 10 (beautiful exterior , great concourses, and awesome view to downtown)
views from park - 10 (unbelievable view to bridges and downtown)
view to field - 9 (we were very close but all the seats on the lower level felt like you could reach out and touch a player)
surrounding area - 8 (Steelers' Heintz Field nearby, lots of bars and restaurants, short walk across the bridge to downtown)
food variety - 8
nachos - 8 (Peter disagrees but I thought the cheese was excellent, it had a jalapeno kick, the salsa was ok, not great)
beer - 8 (vendors had both Miller and Bud as well as Yuengling, lots of specialty beer stands and some concessions had Iron City, the local brew on tap)
vendor price - 7 (a little more expensive than Cleveland but still very reasonable
ticket price - 10 (thanks to the Pirates for comping us great seats)
atmosphere - 4 (stadium was half empty and lots were driven off by the 7 run 7th, those that stayed just booed the home team)
walk to park - 8 (1/2 block but we passed 3 bars and 1 team shop)
parking price/proximity - 7 ($12 for half a block from the stadium)
concourses - 8
team shop - 6 (not a lot of variety, but they did have throwback helmets and caps)

best food - Garlic hot wings from Quaker Steak & Lube
most unique stadium feature - view to Roberto Clemente Bridge and downtown
best jumbotron feature - collages of player likes as each stepped up to the plate
best between-inning feature - Peirogi race

field dimensions -
starters - Jeff Suppan (MIL) v. John Van Benschoten (PIT)
opponent - Milwaukee Brewers
time of game - 2:59
attendance - 14455
score - 10-3 L
Brewers score that day - 10-3 W

No comments: