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Top 10 Reasons Why PNC Park Is Superior to Wrigley Field
by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
July 8, 2006


Top 10 Reasons Why PNC Park Is Superior to Wrigley Field

Iím a Cubs fan.I have lived in Chicago for most of my life.Steve Stone is my idol, and the 1998 Cubs are one of the best things that ever happened to me.I think that Wrigley Field is a fantastic ballpark, and just seeing ivy evokes fond memories for meÖ

 

But Iím not going to let any of that bias me when I compare Wrigley Field to PNC Park.Any way you look at it, PNC emerges as the better ballpark, and here are the top ten reasons why:

 

 

10. Food and Vendors

 

PNC offers a fantastic array of different kinds of food for your ballpark experience: Twists on traditional ballpark food such as gyros, garlic fries, and bloominí onions.Local trademarks can even be enjoyed there.Iím not a Primanti Bros. fan (pronounced per-manny by the locals), but Iím all in favor of options, and this is a good one for those who want French fries, coleslaw, and grease dripping from their sandwiches.Now a Pittsburgh favorite that I do enjoy is Quaker Steak and Lube.Their Buffalo wings come in many different flavors, and you need to sign a waiver in order to try their hottest!

 

While thereís nothing bad about Wrigley Field food, thereís nothing intriguing or uniquely Chicago about it.Most people equate Chicago food with Italian beef sandwiches, deep dish pizza, and Chicago-style hot dogs.They go just one-for-three in this department, and there are those who would argue that even the hot dogs arenít truly Chicagoan since they arenít sprinkled with celery salt.Probably the most desirable concession that they have are the chocolate malts and lemon chills for those blistering day games.But while youíre lucky to see a vendor for those concessions once a game, the beer and hot dog vendors at Wrigley are famous for lingering in between you and the game incessantly.††††††††††

 

 

9. Parking and Transportation

 

Parking prices have skyrocketed at PNC over the past few years, but youíre still looking at just $10-$15 at the Stadium parking lots.If youíre smart, youíll park downtown for $5 and either take a bus to the stadium for less than two bucks, or take the short, scenic walk across Roberto Clemente Bridge yourself.

 

Parking near Wrigley is a nightmare.Even if youíre lucky enough to only pay $20 for parking, it means that youíre going to be stuck behind other cars in those cramped lots for hours after the game is completed.A shuttle bus to the stadium from DeVry Collegeís parking lot is $7.50 (plus the $6.00 parking fee), and traffic before game time is so heavy that you might just be better off walking.The best option is to take the L.Itís inconvenient for any fan that doesnít live along the Red Line, and youíll get crowds that rival rush hour in London or New York, but itís just $2 and takes you right to the stadium.

 

 

8. Skylines

 

 
Not too bad looking 

Wrigley Field was built next to a Great Lake in a city with one of the most beautiful skylines in the country.Pity, then, that you canít really see either the lake or the skyline from the seats at Wrigley.At PNC, you see the Allegheny River, Clemente Bridge, the Post-Gazzette building, and the rest of Pittsburghís underrated little skyline.Wrigley Field ivy is gorgeous, and the rustic old scoreboard is nice (though it doesnít have enough room to display scores for every game), but everything being considered, itís just a prettier view at PNC.††

 

 

7. PNC features giant statues of Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Stargell around the park. Wrigleyís got a tiny statue of Harry Caray.

 

 
Keith takes a minute to mock Roberto Clemente after a Cubs game at PNC 

Sure, there are better Pirates than Roberto Clemente (Fred Clarke, Arky Vaughan, and Ralph Kiner immediately come to mind), but I can respect the desire to only honor career Pirates.At any rate, these are large, magnificent monuments, as opposed to the statue of Harry, which kind of makes him look like a deranged dwarf.

 

The Pirates also just unveiled a Negro League exhibit just inside the left field gate, featuring seven life-size bronze statues of Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Judy Johnson, Buck Leonard, Satchel Paige and Smokey Joe Williams, each attended by a video display.

 

 

6. The Facilities

 

Hereís the thing about using the bathroom at Wrigley Field: youíre peeing in a trough. Thatís right, peeing in a trough, with all of the splashback, lack of privacy, and hygienic complications that ensue.I think that waiting in line to urinate is preferable to gathering around a drain with a bunch of strangers.Thatís just me.††

 

 

5. Cub tickets, on average, cost twice as much as Pirates tickets.

 

 
Aaah! He's trying to mug us! 

ÖAnd thatís if youíre lucky enough to buy the tickets at face value.For many Cub games, youíll have to pay even more from a broker or a scalper.Yeah, itís great that Cub games always have large, lively crowds, but to make it near impossible for kids to save up enough dough to see their favorite team play live is plain wrong.

 

 

4. You wonít get stuck behind a post at PNC

 

Unless youíve got the section, aisle and seat numbers memorized, thereís always a chance that youíll sit right behind a big Ďol post in Wrigley.Itís not as small of a chance as most people think; there are a lot of support beams around the stadium and they all partially obstruct the view from dozens of seats.The eight-inch monitors they put behind the posts donít quite offset the money that you paid for your seat.

 

 

3. PNC: The Pirate Parrot, The Great Pierogi Race, and a PA announcer with a fake Pittsburgh accent.Wrigley: UmmÖwellÖthey have a guess the attendance game.Does that count as original?

 

Sure, Pittsburgh stole the Pierogi Race idea from Milwaukeeís Sausage Race, but they improved upon a great idea and made it their own.The race begins on the Jumbotron (for exclusive fans of Wrigley Field, this is an ingenious device that displays images, such as instant replays, large enough for the entire crowd to see), where four Pierogies with various fillings race across various Pittsburgh landmarks en route to the finish line near first base.Shortly after they emerge from a door beneath the right field foul pole, the Pirate Parrot, one of the gameís better mascots, invariably attempts to sabotage the race in an attempt to allow JalepeŮo Hannah to win (hey, sheís hot!).The twist is that the Pierogi with the worst record at the end of the year gets replaced with a new favor the following season.

 

 
The Pirate Parrot, up to no good 

The action is ably narrated by the stadium PA announcer, who plays up a fake Pittsburgh accent.I say fake because thereís actually no such thing as a Pittsburgh accent, but Pittsburghers invented one to use in order to make them feel as though they have a culture.Itís similar to the small-town-speak found in rural Pennsylvania and West Virginia, only coarser, and itís only used consciously.

 

Wrigley still has the best 7th-inning stretch in the world, but itís not the same without Harry, and the guest conductors have declined in quality over the years.

 

 

2. Itís Take Me OUT to the Ballgame, not Take Me IN to the Ballgame

 

When you enter Wrigley Field, you donít really enter Wrigley Field.You enter Wrigley Warehouse, confines that are far from friendly.Bland, brownish-grey floors and walls and seemingly endless ramps surround you for your first view of the stadium.Youíll even encounter attitude-laden ticket checkers guarding the way to your $40 mediocre Upper Deck seats.It may sound silly, but if youíre at all claustrophobic, you may want to stay away from the Confines.

 

When you enter PNC Park, you donít really enter anything.You basically pass through a gate and remain outside and free.Your entire ballpark experience will be outdoors Ė you can even watch the game from the ramps, and itís a spectacular view.Thereís fresh air even when youíre heading for concessions or restrooms.Iíve been fortunate enough to avoid rain during all of my trips to PNC, though I can imagine the lack of cover might seem a little less appealing when it does precipitate.Still, the added enjoyment during fair-weathered games (most Pirates fans can tell you about fair-weatheredness) far outweighs the inconvenience during a possible rain delay.

 

 

1. Mannyís BBQ

 

 
What a guy 

Behind the center field wall at PNC Park, thereís this magical place called Mannyís BBQ.There, youíll find a hearty older man who canít seem to stop smiling his toothy grin.Thatís Manny Sanguillen, a catcher who hit .296 during his 13-year career, 12 of which were spent in a Pirates uniform.Every game, Manny sits outside his grill posing for pictures, signing autographs, and chatting with fans.Does the monotony of doing this for five hours a game and 81 games a year ever get to Manny?Maybe.But youíd never know it from the friendliness that he exudes each and every day heís at the ball park.

 

Why havenít more ballparks imitated this?Do you have any idea of the kind of draw that Andy Pafkoís Grill would have at Wrigley Field?

 

The pulled pork sandwich itself is tasty, not though spectacular, and itís suitably overpriced.But if youíre like me, youíll feel like youíre stealing from Manny by enjoying his presence so much and not ordering his food.After all, thereís so much to enjoy at PNC Park, and it comes at such a bargain, that thereís no reason not to indulge in Sanguillenís sandwich.†††††

 

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Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith Glab resides in Chicago, Illinois, and can be reached at keith@baseballevolution.com.




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