Sports Magazine

BUCN Perfect : Ballparks and Arenas: 1876-Present

By Kipper @pghsportsforum

Union Park (1876-1877)
Union Park was the first ever ball park in Pittsburgh. It was home to the Pittsburgh Alleghenys who later went on to become the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was on the North Side, somewhere close to where 3 Rivers Stadium stood.
Recreation Park (1887-1890)
The Alleghenys went on to play at Recreation Park, their first game was April 30, 1887. It was also home to the first American football game, featuring the school who would later become the Pitt Panthers. There are no known existing photographs of the full park. It was almost in the same location as Union Park.
Exposition Park (1901-1909)
Exposition Park followed the first two parks in its location on the North Side. There were three different phases in the building of this park: Lower Field, Upper Field, and Exposition Park III. Its location kept moving further away from the flood areas. The final phase of the park included entertainment other than ball. Horse racing and the circus were held here, concerts, and places to shop for local Pittsburgh goods could be found here. Fun Fact: “The Allegheny River flooded on the 4th of July 1902; more than a foot of water covered large parts of the outfield. It was the perfect time for a double header as the Bucs took on Brooklyn. A special ground rule was created: all outfield hits into the water were singles. The Buccos swept the double header.” In 1903, the first World Series was played here. A gong was also used to commence Pirate games. Pitt football played in this park.
The first three pictures are from Recreation and Exposition Parks. Check out the guys in the derby hats!! The last picture is looking at Union Park from across the river. See the roller coaster?

Another notable park of this era was Greenlee Field in the Hill District. It was the first black-built and black-owned park in the United States. It was home to the Pittsburgh Crawfords 1932-1938 and the Homestead Grays 1932-1937.
BUCN Perfect : Ballparks and Arenas: 1876-PresentBUCN Perfect : Ballparks and Arenas: 1876-Present
Forbes Field (1909-1970)
Forbes Field was the only major ball park not located in downtown, but in the Oakland area. It was the very first park built of steel and concrete. The Pirates, Pitt football, and the Homestead Grays all played here, and it was also the first home of the Steelers. Babe Ruth hit the longest home run at Forbes Field; it went over the outfield roof. After 1921, fans were allowed to keep balls hit into the stands, and after 1924 Pitt football moved to Pitt stadium. Fun Fact: Beer was never sold in Forbes Field.
Pitt Stadium (1925-1999)
Pitt Stadium was home to the Pittsburgh Panthers football, basketball, and track. The Steelers split time here and Forbes Field. **I had the opportunity to see this stadium when my parents took me there as a kid. I still remember how green the turf was as we watched the track team practice. Now, as an alumnus of the 2008 class of University of Pittsburgh, I look back fondly to that memory of Pitt Stadium.
Three Rivers Stadium (1970-2000)
Three Rivers Stadium was home to the Pirates, Steelers and one season of Pitt football. Originally, it was supposed to have a similar design to current Heinz Field with one end open. The Steelers organization convinced the developers to encircle the stadium, giving it its circular appearance. Only 10 balls were ever hit into the upper deck. Willie Stargell hit 4 of them. The largest attendance for a Steeler game here was January 15, 1995, a loss in the AFC Championship against the San Diego Chargers. **I was at this game. It was the first Steeler game my dad ever took me to!! My first Bucco game was also there as well. I was at the very last event held there, an *NSYNC concert back in my middle school days. :facepalm:
PNC Park (2001-Present)
PNC Park has been lauded as one of the best ball parks to watch a game. It's beauty can be seen inside and outside the park. I've been to many games here since it opened. The gorgeous view of the city is one I feel is unmatched by any other park, even Heinz Field.
One website lists the top ten features of PNC Park's beauty as follows:

  1. The Main concourse: watch the ballgame as you step out for a beer, a hot dog, or a trip to the rest room. Lots of standing room behind the last row of seats with a close-up view of the field.
  2. Two Concourse design: The upper deck seats are closer to the field.
  3. The view of downtown Pittsburgh (and the Allegheny River): The Gateway Clipper boats honk their horns as they pass by during the game.
  4. Bleacher seats in Left Field and the six-foot wall.
  5. The Riverwalk area in Right and Center Field.
  6. Walking across the Clemente Bridge before the game.
  7. Posing with the Wagner, Clemente, and Stargell statues.
  8. Watching part of the game from the Left Field Rotunda ramp.
  9. The 21-foot scoreboard in Right Field with in-game updates.
  10. Unique limestone finish.

Fun Facts: The seats at PNC Park are blue in homage to the blue seats at Forbes Field. The warning track is made from crushed lava because it drains faster.
**My uncle is in the bricklayers union and had the amazing experience to be able to help build both PNC Park and Heinz Field. He was there almost start to finish. PNC Park also has the best food selection out of all the arenas in Pittsburgh, as well as the best nachos!!
Heinz Field (2001-Present)
Heinz Field was built with 12,000 tons of steel, paying respects to the Steel City. Like PNC Park, its open end gives a view of the city. If you stand on Mt. Washington you can see into Heinz Field through the opening. It is home to the Steelers and the Pitt Panthers football teams. The Great Hall, housed in the eastern section, is filled with Steeler and Pitt memorabilia. Weddings and other events are also held here. **The first official event held at Heinz Field was another *NSYNC concert, so of course I had to attend since I attended the last one at Three Rivers. I also had the pleasure of representing Grand Mariner at Whiskey Fest, held inside the Great Hall. Heinz Field was home to the 2011 Winter Classic and the Gotham Rogues from The Dark Knight Rises.
Civic/Mellon Arena (1961-2010)Mellon Arena was the first ever sports venue built with a retractable roof. The Pittsburgh Penguins, AHL teams, and minor league basketball teams played here. In addition, it was also the host of numerous concerts, WWE wrestling events, boxing, preseason NBA games, and the first ever Ice Capades. Upon demolition, it was the third smallest hockey arena in the NHL. **The first event I ever attended here was the Monster Trucks when I was 6. My dad also took me to my first ever Penguins game here, we played the Toronto Maple Leafs when Ty Domi was still there. I also went to a few Pens games to see Malkin and Crosby back when they were practically giving away tickets bc we were horrible.
Consol Energy Center (2010-Present)
Consol Energy Center is the baby of all the Pittsburgh sports venues. The same people who designed PNC Park and Heinz Field also designed Consol. Consol has been host to numerous events besides Pens games, including concerts, Nuclear Cowboyz dirt bike shows, and comedians. The arena football team, Pittsburgh Power play inside Consol too. Consol was host to the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four. Fun Fact: Its capacity is 18,387, the ending number is 87 in honor of Sidney Crosby.
**I have been to Consol quite a few times since it opened. I have yet to see the Pens play there.
I learned a ton of information from reading about the history of our great city and the amazing ball parks and arenas we have had. Until today, the thought of where any team played before Forbes Field never crossed my mind. I included fun facts wherever possible to try and keep this light and fun. History can be really boring sometimes.
I also tried to include my personal experiences at each of the venues which I've visited. I did this for two reasons: 1. So that my faithful following of readers can get a glimpse into the life of their favorite female blogger. 2. So that it would inspire you guys to share your stories from these great places in our city. I wasn't even alive when Forbes Field was around. I've seen home plate in Posvar Hall at Pitt, and the outfield wall near Mervis Hall. Were any of your parents, grandparents, or great grandparents able to visit the parks that came before Forbes? What awesome stories do you guys have? Do you have pictures? You have a special piece of history that some of us will never get to experience.
Direct quotes all taken from:
Pictures from Wikipedia.

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