Pittsburgh Pirates

PNC Park

Pittsburgh, PA

Year Opened: 2001

Capacity: 38,747

Grade: 90.5 Ranking: #3/27*

Something Different in Pittsburgh

PNC Park highlights local beauty of the Steel City, but intimacy is what sets it apart

Number of games seen: 3
First game: July 18, 2010
Most recent game: May 12, 2018


PHOTO GALLERY at bottom of page


By: Cole Shoemaker
Written in 2010; ratings updated yearly when necessary

*Classic parks Wrigley FieldFenway Park, and Dodger Stadium are not ranked or rated for reasons previously outlined in those reviews 

IMPORTANT NOTE: While the content, review, ratings, and ranking will mostly stay the same, some information will be updated based on my 2018 trip to PNC Park.  All new photos will be added as well.


Who ever thought baseball’s most beautiful park would be in Pittsburgh?


Who knew anything about Pittsburgh’s beautiful rivers or skyline? In a city known for its industrial working class grittiness, stereotypes recall a dirty image of steel, coal miners, and fat grizzled Steeler fans waving their terrible towels, but not beauty. Until now.


So yes, PNC Park showcases its city unlike any other. Yes, it’s the most beautiful park in baseball. I think if you took the average baseball fan to every major league ballpark, he/she would pick PNC as their favorite, overwhelmingly. You don’t even have to look at the ballpark websites; just look at Yelp. PNC is the favorite.


Aesthetically, no one comes close, not even AT&T in San Francisco, if you consider the exterior, interior, panoramic view, and other intangibles. We’ve heard all the press already. We’ve read ESPN call it perfect and compare it to Wright’s Falling Water. And what is most impressive is that its beauty is so locally based. In Pittsburgh of all places!


But it’s not just about the view, or even the aesthetics or the brilliant location.



While it is the most beautiful park in baseball, PNC Park’s true greatness resides in its unsurpassed intimacy.

In an era where owners were demanding all the quirks and gimmicks possible to supplement their massive new ballparks, the Pirates did something different.


Somewhat quietly, around the league prior to the 2000s, sentiments echoed about how these retro parks were actually ornate projects with huge footprints, nothing like the jewel box parks. In scale, these parks had high upper decks that more resembled the cookie cutters they replaced, just with a retro façade and deceptive proportions. In actual size, these parks were not intimate and were nothing like the “classic” ballparks. Until PNC Park came along.


The Pirates decided to build a park that’s actually intimate, not just one that “looks” intimate through sunken exterior landscaping.  From the beginning, Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy wanted an authentically low scale “35,000-to-37,000-seat park with natural grass and no roof, bells, or whistles.” Look at all of the kitschy elements incorporated into other ballparks of the era. PNC was visionary in its simplicity for the time.



Intimate two-deck grandstand.

Everything deviated from the retro formula: the intimate two-deck design, the limestone exterior, and blue seats. Little did he know that he was building something that would stand alone in praise, in what appears to be the Wrigley Field of the 21st century.


In reality, that’s what makes PNC the consensus best retro park.


While its functionality and amenities haven’t really faced too much scrutiny (a couple of bad sightlines, somewhat narrow concourses, a lack of amenities, no atmosphere, etc.) until this review, once you add the gorgeous aesthetics, it’s a slam-dunk.

NEXT - Setting



Setting: 9.5/10

Location/Access: 5/5

Local Scene: 4.5/5

Architecture & Aesthetics: 30.5/33

Exterior Design: 8/10

Interior Aesthetics: 14.5/15

Panoramic View: 5/5

Concourses: 3/3

Functionality: 17.5/25

Sightlines: 8.5/10

Seat Comfort: 3/5

Concourses: 4.5/7

Scoreboard: 1.5/3

Amenities: 18.5/25

Concessions: 3.5/5

Signature Food: 2/2

Restaurants: 4.5/5

Premium Services: 4/5

Historic References: 3/5

Entertainment: 1.5/3

Miscellaneous: 14.5

Atmosphere/Fans: 3.5/5

Ballpark Policies: 2/2

Bonus: 9


Final Score: 90.5