Renovations at PNC Park – A Demographic Approach to Renovation

April 14, 2015 / Pat Tangen

PNC Park is one of America’s great ballpark experiences. And Pirates fans are some of the nation’s most passionate, most committed and most fervent in Major League Baseball. They’re traditional fans – known for staying in their seats, with their eyes glued on the game for nine innings. If a fan wants a beer or hot dog, they go between innings so they don’t interrupt the game. It’s a beautiful and nostalgic experience.

As such a loved experience, it’s no surprise that the Pirates have made an effort to invest in the ballpark – which is now 15 years old – in an ongoing effort to keep it modern and fresh and still reverent at the same time. On April 13th the team unveiled some significant changes to the ballpark, all of which come from an authentic place. When Populous was hired a year ago to create a master plan for PNC Park, we looked first to the fans who have defined the PNC Park experience.

Fan Study and Looking to the Future

The master plan has looked at the ballpark’s future in the next 10-15 years in an effort to honor, preserve and improve the fan experience. We knew this had to start with the fans. We met with hundreds of fans in small groups, asking questions about the experience to various ticket holders (from season ticket holders to single game purchasers) of various ages. The Pirates and Populous listened to the experiences fans would like to see added (i.e. greater selections for the general fan of premium beers, food and social gathering spaces) and what they love about PNC Park (the atmosphere, traditional fans and the team’s history). After meeting with fans and doing a trend and demographic analysis, we saw opportunities to design based on the fans’ feedback. We knew that the traditionalist fans would always want to keep a close eye on the game, so we worked with the Pirates to design spaces that meet the social gathering and amenity needs of fans, in areas of the ballpark that would allow them to keep a pulse on the game.  . The team’s progressive approach to renovations –evaluating the fan experience by listening and actually giving people what they want – will shape and maintain the ballpark’s status as one of America’s great places to catch a game.

The result is four new spaces – an upper concourse bar, a rotunda bar in left field, Hall of Fame club terraces and a marketing center to be used for conferences, meetings and events – that are by the fan and for the fan.

Responding to Evolution of the Fan Experience through Renovation

The spaces include:

  • Upper Concourse Bar
    The Pirates added a full-service bar in PNC Park’s Upper Concourse.  Located behind section 316 at the top of the Trib Total Media Home Plate rotunda, the 28-foot long outdoor bar will become a major attraction for fans sitting in the upper concourse. What was once a concession and merchandise stand is now a dynamic gathering space with a selection of craft beer, wine and mixed drinks.  Bar-height tables, oversized industrial ceiling fans, sun shading and seven new televisions offer comfort, a modern vibe and constant connection to the game.
  • Hall of Fame Club Terraces and The Porch
    Located behind the left field bleachers, this two-level, 250 linear foot standing room terrace with drink rails connects the previous gap between the upper bleacher section in left field and the Rivertowne Brewing Hall of Fame Club.  The terraces also provide fans with direct access to the Rivertowne Brewing Hall of Fame Club through the newly installed glass doors that allow entry from both the upper bleacher sections and the Allegheny Health Network left field rotunda.  The doors allow fans to freely flow in and out of the club, which is open to all fans, and provides a really unique space for every fan to call their own.  Adjacent to the new terraces overlooking center field is The Porch, a new seating neighborhood for 25 that provides a more social, casual environment to watch the game with outdoor sofa-style seating and barstools.
  • The Corner
    A lengthy, 40-foot long bar and standing drink rails are the attraction for The Corner, a new outdoor bar at the base of PNC Park’s recognizable left field rotunda.  A nine-television display integrated into a corten steel wall offers a place for fans to catch the game while enjoying craft brews.  Fans can also view all the action from the bar area to the playing field thanks to new sight lines. Previously an underutilized and ignored space in the ballpark,   this area has new life as an experience shaped by the fans.
  • Pirates Business Center
    On the second floor of PNC Park’s administration building, the Pirates opened an expanded 1,600 square foot business and event space that helps the ballpark become even more accessible beyond game day. With flexible meeting space and two unique meeting rooms with full A/V capabilities, the business center meets a need for the Pirates – to welcome formal meetings and events on both game days and non-game days alike.

PNC Park has always been a ballpark that blends rich history  with modern comforts and conveniences   – speaking to hard core  baseball fans, traditionalists and new generations of Pirates fans. It makes sense, then, that their fans were key to renovations at the ballpark and were the voice that shaped design. With these renovations, the Pirates will keep PNC Park an authentic representation of the Pirates brand and a home for Pirates fans for many seasons to come.

Meet the author

Pat Tangen

Principal, Senior Architect / Kansas City


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