PNC Park is home to the Pittsburgh Pirates and is also considered to be one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country.
While a great place to be during a game, the park is also home to a behind the scenes tour that goes to a number of interesting spots inside the stadium that you normally won't see in a regular game, including:
- Legacy Theater
- The Clubhouse (away days only*)
- Batting Cages, Tunnel, and Dugout
- The Press Box
- Club Level and Suites
Taking this tour was high on my Pittsburgh bucket list, but I always had trouble scheduling a visit to coincide with a date I could get inside the Clubhouse. Now that I finally made that happen, it is time to share a few highlights from the tour!
Legacy Theater at PNC Park
If you've spent a lot of time walking around PNC Park, you may have seen the sign for Legacy Theater and wondered what it is.
This rather small museum, located near the entrance by the rotunda, features a timeline of the Pirates long history, a wall of first accomplishments (including participating in the first World Series, hosting the first night game in a World Series, the first all-minority starting line-up, and more), as well as examples of lockers from the past three ballparks including memorabilia from each.
For those who go on days where you cannot get into the Pirates Clubhouse, you'll see a behind-the-scenes video in this room as well; but if you do get access then they skip the video (as was the case on my tour).
As far as museums go this one is quite small but starts the tone of the tour off right with a vast amount of Pirates history.
The Pirates Clubhouse
If you are taking the tour when the Pirates are away, odds are good you may be allowed into the Clubhouse.
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This particular spot was the highlight of my tour and is something we highly recommend scheduling your visit around. The reason? It includes the locker room, the training facility, and much more!
While photos are not allowed in the Clubhouse at all (I had to leave my camera and phone on a table when we got in), all I can really say is it is a really surreal experience that really is the heart and soul of all things Pirates.
To see the lockers, see the schedules, and learn about some of the inner-workings of the team in this particular room is simply amazing.
The only downside is that this is only accessible on days when the Pirates are away, and in the past was also rumored to be limited to non-game, non-travel days as well (so when there was a break in a series). Unfortunately, exact dates where you can go inside the Clubhouse are not listed on the site, so you'll likely have to make your booking based on when the Pirates are away and hope for the best.
*Note, I booked my tour specifically to be there on a non-game, non-travel away day when they had a break in a series just in case. Unfortunately, the guides could not confirm whether they go in on all away days or not as is implied on PNC Park's website. We will update in the future once we know for sure.
Batting Cages and the Dugout
Once you leave the Clubhouse (if available on your tour) it is on to the batting cages to learn more about all the strategy and statistics that go on in learning how to time a pitch.
To say that it is down to a science is one thing, but this is even more impressive when you have to keep in mind that every player must make a decision within a fraction of a second as well!
After hitting the batting cages its time to go through the tunnel, complete with the iconic Roberto Clemente quote, and into the dugout and out onto the field.
During this stop of the tour, you'll learn all about the maintenance of the field including some rather interesting details like how much water the field can absorb during rain (several inches an hour) and that the dirt around the track is actually volcanic rock that is super porous to allow water to pass through and feel dry even in rain!
Suffice it to say, there are a lot of interesting details that go on to ensure the field is perfect for game day!
Stellar Views at the Press Box and Suites
The final stops on the tour are on the top levels of the stadium to see the press box and suites.
The press box was the second biggest highlight of the tour for me because it has the best view of the entire stadium thanks to its elevated perch. I really could've stayed in this one all day!
After visiting the press box, your final stop on the tour is into the VIP suites and club level- potentially the only spot on the tour you may have seen before if you have attended a game with the premium ticket.
Here you learn a number of neat behind the scenes details including how the suites got their numbers, all of the number 9 references at Keystone Corner (subtle nods to Pirates legend Bill Mazeroski), and more!
Overall, whether you're a Pirates fan, baseball fan, or even a sports fan at all is immaterial- you really should check out the tour at PNC Park. Both the team and the park itself have a fascinating history, and learning it all is a truly unique experience in Pittsburgh!
Tours of PNC Park are generally conducted every day except Sunday, April through September, but exact times vary based on whether a game is scheduled or not. The guides noted that tours sell out fast during the summer as school groups book up the timeslots in advance. Winter tours may also be available based on conversations with the guides but online information is sparse.