The Best Ballpark in America is about to get a little better.
Yesterday, the Pirates presented plans to Pittsburgh’s Sports & Exhibition Authority board to make improvements to PNC Park’s outfield plaza that faces the Allegheny River. The team, aka Bob Nutting, currently flush with cash due to the recent sale of the Seven Springs ski resort, will be paying the bill for the improvements.
The plan is being implemented by Janet Marie Smith, who is currently executive vice president of planning and development for the Dodgers and who also helped design Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
The main improvement is to remove six rows of seats from two right field sections and install drink rails, tables, and stools so fans can hang out and watch the game from the plaza. Right now there are already tables and benches that primarily serve those picking up food from Manny Sanguillen’s barbecue stand, but you can’t see the field due to the bleachers there. A lot of MLB parks have similar setups, and they’ve proven to be popular gathering places.
Speaking of concession stands, the Bucs plan updates to three of them, as well as adding some more play spots for kids. Pirates president Travis Williams mentioned in the SEA briefing that more opportunities to display the team’s history, as well as Pittsburgh’s overall baseball history, including the Negro Leagues, were also being discussed. The plans tie in with the proposed North Shore development that came up in November.
I will pause here for the usual “improve the team, not the park” complaints that pop up whenever PNC Park improvements are discussed. The changes proposed have been described as “a very gentle massaging” by Smith and probably won’t cost all that much in the relative scheme of things.
Like everything else going on with the Pirates, it’s a start.