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PNC Park gets a thumbs up



Published: Sun, May 6, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's probably an unfortunate circumstance of our profession, but because we have sometimes unlimited access to professional and major college sports events, you'll rarely see some of us ink-stained wretches in the stands.

But, every so often, the opportunity to be a regular dad and husband jumps out at us, and it's impossible to pass up.

Such was the case Friday night when, through perfect timing on the Internet and probably a healthy dose of luck, we were able to secure tickets for the Pirates-Colorado Rockies game at PNC Park.

The opportunity for the seats, located two rows from the field just beyond the Pirates' dugout, was too great to pass up.

(Mind you, our family has been indoctrinated Indians fans forever. However, baseball being the favorite sport of choice, going to a game involving any teams is OK by us.)

Drive in was awful: The worst part of the evening was the drive into Pittsburgh. We approached the city from the north, by way of state Route 60, the highway that goes past the international airport.

The traffic was typical for a Friday night, until we got to within about 10 miles of the city. From that point, the two lanes were bumper to bumper, delaying our arrival downtown by about 40 minutes.

Our original plan was to arrive in the city around 5 p.m., enough time to have a chance to eat at the Outback Steak House restaurant in the stadium, and pursue Larry Walker of the Rockies for an autograph. We retrieved one of the balls Walker hit in the All-Star home run derby at Jacobs Field in 1997, and wanted to get it signed.

The horrible traffic conditions scuttled all those plans, however. By the time we arrived downtown, the clock had moved past 6 p.m. Naturally, many of the parking decks and surface lots in the city were already full or close to it.

Luckily, we found a surface lot at the corner of Fort Allegheny Boulevard and Eighth Street, a walk of only about two blocks from Roberto Clemente Bridge.

(Our other preferred parking option was Station Square and boarding one of the clipper boats, but we had all done that before.)

Better experience: Once we were parked and headed to the stadium, the evening became much more relaxed and enjoyable.

We found our seats quickly and discovered they were as close to the action as we had hoped. We even had a couple of chances at foul balls.

The seats, as in many of the newer baseball stadiums around the country, were at an angle, facing home plate, but we still had an excellent view of the main scoreboard and the out of town scoreboard, which is in the right field fence.

The seats at PNC Park seemed more narrow than what I've experienced at some of the other new parks, like Jacobs Field and Camden Yards. (Although I can't say with much certainty that it may not be that the seats are getting narrower, but I'm getting wider.) Still, there was plenty of leg room.

One of the most attractive parts of the stadium for my family was the open and wide concourse. It reminded me, in that regard, of Camden Yards.

Much of the concourse at Jacobs Field, by contrast, is covered, affording little view of the city surrounding.

Better selection: PNC Park's selection of food is also better than at Jacobs Field, according to an informal family poll.

I opted for a sausage sandwich from Primanti Brothers, which was delicious, as usual.

The children chose for their Philly Steak sandwich. They were initially taken aback by the french fries and cole slaw, but soon agreed they were delicious additions.

The only disappointment of the night in regards to food was the absence of stadium mustard, a Cleveland staple.

As for the game ... well, Pirates fans, you can't have everything.

To sum up the night, I'll paraphrase the line from "Field of Dreams" ... If you build it (the roads) wider, they will come (to town more quickly).

XRob Todor is sports editor of The Vindicator.




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