The first Major League game at PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, occurred on April 9, 2001. The Park lies in downtown Pittsburgh along the Allegheny River. Fans who park their car in the downtown area can get to PNC Park by walking over the river on the Sixth Street Bridge, which became the Roberto Clemente Bridge in 1999. The bridge is closed to car traffic whenever the Pirates play a home game. Roberto Clemente was the star right fielder for the Pirates from 1955 to 1972. He entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 by vote of the baseball writers. The bright yellow bridge and the Pittsburgh skyline are visible from most of the seats in the park. PNC Park gets its name from PNC Financial Services, and has a seating capacity of 38,362. Look at the PNC Park seating chart for more detail regarding the seats for a Pittsburgh Pirates game.
PNC Park has an unusual design feature in that there are only two tiers of seating. This means that the highest seats are a mere 88 feet away from the field. This feature draws the fans closer to the action, and gives them a connection to the players. Another unique feature is that the right field wall is 21 feet high, but the left field wall is only six feet high. The reason for the difference is that the right field wall pays homage to Roberto Clemente who wore number 21 for the Pirates.
Hungry fans at PNC Park have a variety of tasty food items available at the many concession stand locations. Two food courts are worthy of special mention. First, Pop’s Plaza in left field at section 129 gets its name from Hall of Famer Willie Stargell who played left field and first base for the Pirates from 1962 to 1982. Willie was affectionately known as “Pops” because of the fatherly concern he showed for his teammates. Among the fan favorites at Pop’s Plaza are Willie’s Chili and chicken on the hill. The other noteworthy food court is the Smorgasburgh, located on the first base side near section 110. Here, fans will find the Primanti Brothers and the Quaker Steak and Lube restaurants which serve food with a distinctly Pittsburgh flair.
The design of PNC Park included a wide walkway, called the River Walk, between the center field seats and the Allegheny River. The River Walk has concession stands, and provides a pleasant place for fans to stroll around and still view the action on the field. On the days when the Pirates are not playing at PNC Park, the River Walk is open to the public.
The Pirates have an interesting way of following up when a Pirates’ player hits a home run at PNC Park. Officials at the park will interview the fan who caught the home run ball, and ask if he or she would like to exchange it for a baseball sporting the autograph of the player who hit the home run. Fans who opt for the autographed ball will receive it in the mail.