Tailgating in Pittsburgh is more than a one day a week thing; preparing for an on-site party takes us about four days to prepare for. It is not something that’s taken lightly by anyone that attends. Most of the attendees follow the posted and unwritten rules but newcomers to the scene might not know Steeler fan etiquette like where to put recyclables and trash and how to tell someone that they need to more their gear away from the common area.
If you’re planning on tailgating before a Steelers football game there are some things you need to know. In most cases the gates for parking lots open five hours in advance of the game. Surrounding lots may open earlier for those who want to start cooking or setting up earlier. When we tailgate on-site we try to get there at least three hours before kickoff; a parking pass purchased in advance is the best way to avoid being shut out on stadium parking.
Security: Event security is high within the city, Steelers games are no exception. Items prohibited from the field area include: alcoholic beverages, professional recording equipment, strollers, backpacks, weapons and laser pointers. I forgot about the backpack rule and had to walk all the way back to my SUV to store it before I was allowed to enter the stadium.
Alcohol: While there is a ban on bringing alcohol inside the stadium, you can consume it outside in the parking lot while tailgating. If you serve someone that is underage you will be arrested by City of Pittsburgh Police. Selling alcohol or food within the parking lot or on stadium property is also illegal. Kegs and party balls are not permitted on stadium property but I’ve seen more than a few of them out in the open during tailgating parties. For the most part police and security overlook it providing that everyone is over the age of 21 and no one is visibly intoxicated.
On-Site Cooking: Grilling and outdoor cooking go hand in hand with tailgating and when you are in Steeler country that means chili, ribs, steaks and burgers. If you’re going to bring a grill you need to make sure that it’s in an area where people aren’t going to bump in to it. No electrical outlets provided so you’ll have to use a generator to power televisions or electronics.
Parking: While there are no written rules about parking spaces, it’s common courtesy to take up only one space per vehicle; if you have a camper or RV consider using one of the other lots so you’ll have enough room. Most lots remain open after the game for at least two hours; check the posted signs when you enter or buy your parking pass in advance.
Fan Hotline: If you are inside the stadium and need immediate assistance you can call the fan hotline at (412) 697-7766. Calls will be directed to security in case medical attention is needed or there is an altercation in the seating area.
Location And Parking: Heinz Field is located at 100 Art Rooney Avenue on the North Shore. The stadium lot capacity is about 6,000 spots so if you’re only going to see the game or are meeting people to tailgate, take advantage of the “$5.00 Game Day” parking rates in the downtown area at locations like Oliver Garage, Mellon Square Garage, the Mon Warf and Grant Street.
The atmosphere in the Heinz Field lots for tailgating before a game is intense; people are expected to follow a certain decorum and abide by the Fan Code of Conduct that applies inside the stadium. There are always visiting fans that like to taunt the locals but that happens at any sporting event. If you feel you are in danger, being threatened or harassed call 9-1-1. A dispatcher will alert on-site security and police to your location. Again, this is only for the parking lot and surrounding Heinz Field areas.