I visited PNC Park for the first time in 2010. I had just gotten married; hubby and I went on five baseball road trips that year. This was the only stadium I hadn’t been to at least one other time. The game was a rain shortened yet official game; the Mets won. It was also a Jonathon Niese start (this Saturday I was there, it was also a JJN start). The series this year was a four game variety. Mets lost three of them.
I didn’t get the full effect that year. Since 2011, though, it’s been tough for us to do a trip, whether the series fell during the week or a time that we already had a conflict. We were both eager to get out there for this weekend. However, what we didn’t expect was life to get in the way. My husband’s family sold their house that’s been in the family for over 40 years. As a result, he had been taking some time off from work to deal with moving things out of the house. Before he knew it, it was month end. When your job function has to deal with closing out books for month end and year end, chances are a quick getaway only ends up with more work involved.
Before I knew it, it was decided that I’d be going solo. I had some friends who were going, so it was like I was alone. I had a lot of stuff to do.
I found that Pittsburgh is a very underrated city. Clean, pretty. You definitely feel Americana at its best when you’re there. PNC Park is also easily my favorite stadium thus far out of the 20 I have seen. I’m guessing Target Field, from people have told me, will give it a run for its money. Food, ambience, fan involvement, views. All the little things they got right in Pittsburgh’s park.
What I really took away from my weekend in Pittsburgh’s PNC Park was the attention to the little things to make the fan experience better. Friday and Saturday (perhaps Sunday, too, but I wasn’t there for it) featured a block party down Sixth Street, which is where the Roberto Clemente Bridge runs through, where partygoers could go to bars that lined the streets with drink and food specials, if you didn’t want to be beholden to the ballpark for food. Prior to these Block Parties, they featured some Pirates alumni (in this case, Omar Moreno of the famed We Are Family 1979 Pirates team), and $4 beers.
Just let that one sink in. I got a Leinenkugel summer shandy for $4. Prices went up, slightly, in the park. I know there’s a lot of pricing to the area (I know New York City has a higher cost of living…but it’s still not “cheap” to go to a ballgame, I just make it a priority).
But I got to thinking, how could the Mets do something like this to entice fans? All the energy from outside of the park did translate inside the park.
I realize that a lot of New York laws might not allow open containers. ‘Tis true, due to the many tailgates I’ve attended and have had to “cop” my beers in red Solo cups. We’ve never had to toss anything, or have had any troubles with the law
I’m sure if it came to a rowdy game (like a playoff game), I could see some crack downs. But if you can be served on a sidewalk, chances are, CitiField premises could apply for some sort of area as a drinking establishment, where you are permitted to drink outdoors. Maybe by McFadden’s.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Like I said, I left PNC with a sense of Pirates history, pride and fun. It’s been awhile since we’ve had collective fun at CitiField. There have been some moments. And the Mets **do** try, by having alumni there from time to time. It’s great to see guys like Edgardo Alfonzo, John Franco, hell even Matt Franco. But these Block Parties really make me see that the fan experience is something else that’s sorely missing from Mets home games. They try. It just falls off the mark. Whether it’s the actual “buzz,” whether it’s fan disenchantment (could very well be that), I’m not sure. All I know is that if there were parties like this, I could be enticed to show up earlier to the ballpark to do some cheap drinking and partying.
There was also an emphasis on history. Not just Pirates history, which is rich and unique in and of itself. But Negro Leagues were included too.
I’ve never been one of those folks who subscribed to the idea that the Mets needed statues outside of CitiField, or even inside. I never felt strongly about it either way. I felt like the Museum and Hall of Fame was well-done, although I felt that the Rotunda could use some other acknowledgement of New York baseball history, not just Jackie Robinson.
After seeing the statues at PNC Park, of Honus Wagner, Bill Mazeroski and Ralph Kiner’s hand cast, I had a strong reaction. I wanted our own shit in CitiField.
A Jesse Orosco statue, doing his YES pose after striking out Marty Barrett to win the World Series. Cleon Jones with his catch to end the 1969 World Series. Mike Piazza hitting a home run. Whatever. There are so many great things that could make the fan experience better at CitiField. I’m not sure if they’re doing as much as they could.
They say that when the Brooklyn Dodgers finally won a World Series in 1955, beating the hated Yankees, fans had a party down Flatbush Avenue that rivaled Mardi Gras.
I was 10 years old when the Mets last won a World Series. I got drenched in a beer and champagne waterfall. I also remember that in 1988, when the Mets simply clinched the NL East, there was a dude who was a passenger in a passing vehicle waving his pants around out the window as his friend drove by Shea Stadium, in celebration.
I was 18 years old when the Rangers won a Stanley Cup after a 54 year drought. People were climbing up on lamp posts whilst naked.
Although I’ve been rooting for them for two years, and we were not in their home city when they won a championship, Seahawks fans took the Times Square to celebrate their Super Bowl victory last February.
Sometimes, summer doesn’t have to be right for dancin’ in the streets. Or maybe when you’re in Pittsburgh, it warrants a party each weekend. A block party, if you will.
The gentleman you see dancing in the video to old school R&B was someone who quite frankly danced like no one was watching. But plenty of people were. What surprised me though was just in a few years time, the Pirates, who always had tickets available, many comments were made about how the Pirates had such a nice park, but no one went to see them play.
It just shows that after a few years, some exciting play, and even a playoff run, can change a fan base around. It may take time, but Mets fans, we can only wish to be dancing in the streets at some point.
Pittsburgh is a cool city. I have been to that park and also the new Heinz Field. They are great.
Part of the problem is there is not much around CitiField to have a festival or block party. At night the area is a dump and still skechy. Hate the Yankees all you want but there is nothing more fun than partying at all the bars and businesses right across the street. CitiField has a subway platform across it. That’s it.
Oh, don’t you know. Wilpon thinks he owns the Brooklyn Dodgers!