A GREAT view of the field at AT&T Park in Chattanooga during their pre-season open house!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kurt Smith's Ballpark E-Guide to PNC Park

I mentioned Kurt Smith's e-guides a couple of entries ago, and I picked one up myself!

I just finished reading the guide to PNC Park.

I picked this guide because I find myself at PNC frequently.  It is my personal favorite MLB park and I love Pittsburgh.  I wanted to see if the guide would be useful to someone who is familiar with it.

The guide is well written and is packed with facts.  I printed mine out and it is a pretty solid 40 plus pages of info.  There isn't any filler.

Kurt gives a little history and description of PNC Park, noting that it is near perfect.  In fact, he says that its only flaw is being so perfect.  People come to see it even though locals have NEVER had a home team with a winning season play at this park.  In some ways, it seems to keep ownership from being motivated to get a top quality team on the field.

After a pretty good description of the park Kurt discusses tickets.

If you go to a lot of games, you know this can be a problem.  You debate with yourself about the pros and cons of buying them early, choosing your seat location, etc.  Sometimes you even toy with the idea of trying to get something from a scalper.  You try to think about the best way to get the best deal.

Personally, I rarely buy a minor league ticket in advance (I have had tickets given to me by strangers before games in Charleston WV, Harrisburg PA, and I have bought extras for pocket change at some other locations).  MLB parks can be more difficult.

They take more planning.  It is more expensive.  I have parked, bought tickets, and snacked at a minor league game for less than $15 (for 2 people) on many occasions.  I would say that, for a game in the majors, you can multiply that by 10.

So, it helps to think about how to get the most for your money.

Kurt does a great job of this in his sections devoted to ticket buying.  I would describe his way of thinking about buying tickets (and food, and beer) as "strategic".  I especially appreciate his "Tightwad Tips" noted throughout the guide.

He notes that PNC does have some of the cheapest seats in baseball, mentioning that great lower level seats can be found for around $35! 

Kurt discusses the various seating options, ticket plans, third party sellers and dynamic pricing policy for some sections.  He goes over the pros and cons of each.

He mentions that the Pirates actually have a designated scalpers area.  It is the Pirates though, and as mentioned before, good affordable seats are almost always readily available from the team.

Kurt devotes a good amount of his guide to noting seating options and their prices.  This is something that you can find on the team website, however, this guide is a lot more descriptive.  And, this guide more objective.  Unlike the Pirates, Kurt has no agenda in recommending one seating option over the other.  He gives his well informed opinion about the dollar value of some of the more exclusive seating areas.

I've noticed the whole "all you can eat" ticket becoming a big deal at parks all over the place.  At first, this sounds great.  But, as Kurt points out, there is a good chance you will be getting lesser quality food and you will have to stand in long lines.  PLUS, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to sample the local signature items.  Kurt points out in his guide that a Primanti Bros. sandwich and an Iron City beer are needed for the Pittsburgh food experience.

Obviously the all you can eat ticket is a popular item (when I was at PNC a few weeks ago this was a hot ticket).  And- as to be expected, the lines were exceptionally long.  I did go on a fireworks night though.

The Ballpark E-Guide to PNC park gives a lot of advice on getting to the game and parking.  In fact, this is one of those areas I don't devote a lot of time to on a road trip.  I sort of drive around until something looks right.  It drives my friends crazy at times.

I like getting to the park early too- as early as possible so parking is usually not a huge problem for me.  I know of others who start driving to a game a few minutes before the first pitch.

Back to the food!  Kurt does a great job of listing each food vendor inside and near the park.  He gives a good description of what each one offers.  Again he is more honest than any club related site would be, mentioning that some have less than average service, smaller portions, etc.  He even suggests trying some of the local food away from the park for the best value, as the park has less variety and smaller portions.

I REALLY like the Ballpark E-Guide for several reasons-

There is a lot of information packed in the guide. 

Kurt Smith has spent a lot of time researching PNC Park, and making sure you know about the deals, promotions, and other values at the park. 

You can find some of the info in this guide on club sites, but it is going to all be positive.  This E-Guide is more critical. 

You can go to Kurt Smith's site (http://www.ballparkeguides.com/) to find a lot of information about the various MLB parks for free.  I think, if you were thinking about visiting a park like PNC for the first time, stopping by the ballparkeguides site would be a great starting point to get a feel for the venue.  Once you start making serious plans to visit a park, paying the $5 for the eguide would be a good investment once you know you are going to make that road trip.

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