Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates

PNC Park

Pittsburgh Pirates
Major League
Final Score

TL;DR?  Here’s the long-form piece in a nutshell:

Ballpark aficionados and traveling baseball fans seemed to have settled on a consensus top two among the “modern-day” post-1990 venues: Oracle Park in San Francisco and PNC Park.  The appeal is obvious: stunning views.

Indeed, I’ve grown to see PNC Park as the most beautiful ballpark in baseball inside and out, and it isn’t particularly close.  Instead of views of just water, a bridge, or a skyline, you get all three.  Instead of views only from the upper levels, PNC’s landmarks seem omnipresent throughout the lower bowl.

Moving outside, PNC utilizes a refreshing assemblage of limestone and blue steel in keeping with the riverfront context, not the played out red brick.  And the concourses match too.  And that approach from the Clemente Bridge.  It’s all just perfect.

Beauty aside, PNC’s intimacy also sets it apart.  In an era of ballparks with sprawling towers of luxury suites and 3+ levels, PNC famously utilizes a “double deck” design that just feels cozier (although, it’s virtues for horizontal field proximity are misunderstood, which I discuss).

PNC Park doesn’t have any major flaws, but it’s true that it doesn’t have the amenities of most of its contemporaries.  There are also quite a few little things (listed below) that could have been done better or don’t compare well to the other top-tier parks.  The cumulative effect puts it a notch below Petco Park in competing for the #1 spot.  Hey, if you’re self-advertising as “The Best Ballpark in America,” nitpicks are fair game!