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Ballpark Review: PNC Park

PNC Park-1280

Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh, PA

It’s been three and a half months since I’ve reviewed a ballpark for this series, but having been to only 7 active MLB parks, I didn’t want to rush through this series faster than I could see new venues. But yesterday, I finally got around to something I’ve been thinking about for a while: I built a database of every MLB and MiLB stadium to help track my progress as I make my quest to visit them all. This rekindled my interest in this series, and here we are.

PNC Park is an incredible stadium. Setting aside Comerica Park for personal attachment reasons, PNC my favorite park by far. It is scenic without being too ornate as to distract from the actual game and has solid dining options.

The view of the river, bridges, and Pittsburgh skyline is excellent and foul territory is scare enough that you’re very close to the action even when your seats aren’t great. I’ve been to three games there and sat in the upper deck twice and lower deck once. From behind the plate in the upper deck, you were still right in the action and had almost every inch of the field in view. From the lower deck, you have good angles pretty much anywhere you sit. Not only is left field an interesting size, but the right field wall is a throwback to the old school scoreboard and the tantalizing hope of seeing a ball fly into the river keeps fans coming back.

Ticket and food prices are generally pretty reasonable and the food and beverage selection is diverse and tasty. I’ve had standard hot dogs, fries, and chicken strips, all of which were above average for ballpark food.

Another thing I like about PNC is its location. It’s on the north side of the river near a couple museum, casino tourist attraction type places along with some very nice hotels, but it’s only a short walk from the more typical Pittsburgh downtown area. Not only is the park a fun place to be, but it’s generally a nice area to hang out in before they open the gates and after the final out.

I consider PNC the standard by which all other parks are compared as it has the view and amenities of a big city park with the close to play feel of a minor league stadium. It’s simply an excellent place to enjoy a game and is a must visit for all serious fans. I’ve previously rated Nationals’ Park, giving it a 7 out of 10 relative to its contemporaries (minor league parks and MLB parks are only compared to other parks at their levels) and PNC clearly sets the curve at 10. The only complaint you can have about PNC is that the Pirates play there, and even they have turned themselves into a watchable club.

Stadium Rater (scale 1-10): 10 

Ballpark Review: Nationals’ Park

Home of the Washington Nationals

Location: Washington, D.C.

While SABR Toothed Tigers is a Tigers website first and a baseball analysis site second, it is, third, a place for insight into the more relaxed side of the game; enjoying baseball. In that domain, from time to time I like to write about things that could help you enjoy the sport I love more. This is one of those things. This is a Ballpark Review.

I’ve been to seven living and two deceased major league baseball stadiums and a nice chuck of minor league and college venues as well (Editor’s Note: The author can also provide detailed analysis of NW Ohio’s NLL high school stadiums). One of my more serious lifelong goals is to see a game in every major league park. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on one of the seven MLB stadiums still standing to which I’ve been.

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nats

Nationals’ Park is out in the Navy Yard district of DC which is a ways away from most of the tourist type destinations associated with that city. That said, it is just a short walk from the Metro which you can pick up conveniently in most parts of town. DC locals complain a great deal about their city’s subway, but in four trips to DC, I’ve never found it to be much of a problem. It probably helped that I was visiting rather than depending on it for daily transportation, but this is a review for people going to DC for baseball, not for people deciding where to buy a house.

From a visual perspective, the park is solid. There’s a pleasing mixture of red, white, and blue to go along with an open view from left field and a higher seating and scoreboard area to right. The scoreboard is one of the larger ones I’ve seen and the park is devoid of any serious viewing obstructions unless your seat is next to the foul pole.

On both trips, I sat in the lower deck and the view of the baseball itself was great. I didn’t feel crammed in my seat and the aisles were large and accommodating. The food selection is diverse and above average in my book. The park features a number of exhibit type areas to learn about the history of baseball in Washington, but well, it’s hard to make that look impressive.

The pricing is bit on the high side, but DC is a fairly expensive area and the park was publically financed, so it’s not that surprising given that the team is finally becoming a force on the field.

Nationals’ Park is a doubles hitter as a stadium. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just nothing special. Seeing a game there is a pleasant and fun experience, but I never leave wanting to talk about the park. There is no breathtaking view or superb food or excellent quirk. The only remarkable thing about the park is the President’s race, which is funny, but just as good on television and has little bearing on the park itself.

The Nationals are an exciting club to watch and their stadium is plenty nice, it’s just nothing special. It lacks the charm of Wrigley, the presence of Comerica, or the majesty of PNC. It’s a good place to watch a baseball game, but is there really a bad place to watch baseball?

If you’re going to DC, I recommend a game there, but don’t go out of your way just to catch a game in DC. If you’re planning a baseball specific trip, there are better places to go.

Stadium Rater (scale 1-10): 7

 

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