Monday, August 9, 2010

The PNC Park Experience

Ballpark review? Hardly. What, you think I was wondering around taking notes and posing for pictures beside statues? No thanks. There were ales to enjoy and keyboard cat t-shirts to witness with mine own eyes.

Why belabour the point that the Rogers Centre is grim concrete toilet bowl; more suitable for a mass grave than playing host to the Massholes? PNC utter destroys the RC with its interesting and diverse food selections (of which I tried none), excellent beer list (of which I tried many) and jaw-dropping view of the Pittsburgh core and bridge system. You don't need to hear that.

But that doesn't make the ballpark experience on its own. Not even a crazy four-hour game — with an insane win probability chart that look like/gives me a boner — is enough to make a trip to the ballpark an experience. Making a herd of new friends is a great place to start but still; something special needs to stick out in your mind.

Cue the top of the 9th inning. The Pirates stage a dramatic (for the Pirates) rally, bringing up pinch hitter (and erstwhile Blue Jays target) Ryan Doumit. On-hand Pirates blogger and source Pat of the great Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke (who put up with not only my Jose Bautista ribbing but my Montreal Canadiens razzing too) mentioned earlier that Doumit's walkup music is Mother by Danzig.

Up strolls Doumit and the Mother riffs crash down on sold-out PNC Park. While most bob their heads or nervously clap, three rows strong of Walkoff Walk associated degenerates proceed to SCREAM Mother at the top of their collective lungs. Rockies manager Jim Tracy took the opportunity (winning run on first base) to stage a mound meeting. Which meant a little more Danzig - which meant more singing. The entire first verse and chorus, thankyouverymuch. The music actually stopped but the HEIST crew rolled on, much to the delight/horror/disdain of Yinzers on the first base line.

That, my friends, is a ballpark experience. Wins, losses, expensive sandwiches, face-melting walkoff homers, all eventually fade away. But 30 like-minded goofs singing a hilarious and/or great rock song released in 1988 is the kind of thing you tend to remember. Forever.


  1. "Why belabour the point that the Rogers Centre is grim concrete toilet bowl; more suitable for a mass grave than playing host to the Massholes?"

    The SkyDome is none of those things.

    The Dome offers excellent sightlines, a climate controlled atmosphere, easy access from almost anywhere in the GTA, modern amenities, and an additional revenue stream for a team that has struggled at the box office for well over a decade. Not to mention the guarantee that you will never be rained out.

    Of course it has problems. It does not present itself well when the crowd is small/quiet, but neither does any stadium. Empty seats still look bad, regardless of the skyline above them.

    Not to mention, if more people came to games, there would be more crowd noise, which makes the experience all the better.

    I do not enjoy how people dump on the SkyDome just because it's not shiny and new.

  2. Excellent sightlines? Not from the concourses.

    Modern amenities? Yes, when it was built in 1989. The cheesy, bland cafeteria offerings are bullshit.

    I don't begrudge the Dome for being a relic, I just is. The deadness of the crowd doesn't impact on the bottom of a bucket feeling of the stadium, the 5 decks travelling some 20 stories high does.

    Remember: PNC Park is one of the nicest, if not the nicest, stadiums in baseball. RC doesn't stand a chance.

  3. It's not a terrible park, it just isn't as nice as many other parks in the league.

    However when the dome is closed that place is a fucking mausoleum. I despise how the keep the place shut in april because it is 15 degrees out. Tell the crowd to bring a sweater and open the damn roof.

  4. I'm referring to the building only, t's not the Dome's "fault" the food sucks, that's on ownership.

    I guess what it boils down to is that you feel like you're in the bottom of a bucket when looking up at the 5 decks, and I feel like I'm at the base of an impressive stadium.

    I will always maintain that being inside the SkyDome with 50,000 other baseball fans is the best experience a fan coudld have, bar none.

  5. Ehh, I think it's pretty tough to argue against the merits of real grass and imaginative ballpark designs, but hey, at least it's not the Trop.

  6. Cheesy, bland cafeteria offerings?

    Muddy York is one of the better food concessions I have seen at any ballpark in baseball. The carvery is delicious as well.

  7. I don't understand how anyone can reasonably defend the Roger's Centre. I didn't mind the place, based on the fact that I got to see the Blue Jays, but after being in a place like Fenway Park (a place that actually generates energy)I can't go back to the Roger's Centre. The stadium only feels electric when 50,000 people consume it. It doesn't offer any peripherals, like a PNC park does, or the new Minnesota stadium (remember how god aweful the Metrodome was?), or Seattle.

    And it goes beyond food or expensive beers. That happens everywhere. It's the ugly field, the lack of character, the distance that is felt in the seats. If we had a place on the lake I guarantee they'd get more fans going out. We don't need a stadium that fits 50,000+ people. Something in the 30-40 range would be ideal. Take a look at the Rays new stadium that's opening soon and try and pretend you wouldn't prefer to watch a game there.

  8. Drew, you're making it more and more difficult for me to keep making reasons to NOT go to PNC Park. With Navin's travels and just talking to folks who have been to lots of ballparks, I've heard nothing but good things about PNC. Now, if they could only field a decent team one of these years, the Pirates might have something going for them.

  9. Don't forget that you can walk into PNC via any ticket gate.

  10. @brian: You can do that at the Skydome too. I always just walk in the closest gate: the northern one closest to Blue Jays Way/Front. And I've heard the ticket takers say specifically that they have an "open policy."

  11. Sad that I couldn't make the HEIST. Sounds like a great time was had by all.


  12. I have to be completely honest with you:

    I could never tell if I was creeped out or turned on by the ending of this video. One thing's for sure - that fox can dance.


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