The Pittsburgh Pirates held their annual “What’s New at PNC Park” event on Tuesday, April 4, showcasing offseason changes to the beloved ballpark to members of the media.
The new 83,000 pound video board (roughly twice the size of the old one) headlines those changes, along with updated and expanded ribbon boards ringing the bottom of the suite level overhang.
The Pirates brought back the out-of-town scoreboard at the bottom of the Clemente Wall in right field. The scoreboard took a one-year hiatus last season in favor of expanded advertising space, but the Pirates apparently thought better of that decision.
The Pirates plan to include an area that celebrates the history of baseball in Pittsburgh, including legends of the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, near Pops’ Plaza on the third base line. That hasn’t been completed yet, but they said it will be ready by the end of April.
Pirates’ President Travis Williams expressed the club’s desire to free up space on the main concourse at PNC Park to make it easier to navigate.
As such, the Pirates removed several pop-up kiosks serving alcoholic beverages, freeing up the area for foot traffic. They moved the kiosks to permanent locations on the outer edge of the concourse, built into the park’s outer walls in areas originally shuttered off.
Instead of tables formerly left in the middle of the concourse, the Pirates substituted drink rails that make it possible for fans to take in the action while having a drink before returning to their seats during a stoppage in play.
The Pirates announced several new food items available for purchase during the upcoming season: options include Mrs. T’s Pierogies topped with pulled pork, the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich, slices of a Pittsburgh favorite, Bloomfield’s own Caliente Pizza, fried cheese curds, entire pints of Perry’s Ice Cream and the Bucco Crunch Dog, the club’s spin on a hotdog.
Updated Security Systems
With the renewed emphasis on improving the fan experience at PNC Park, the Pirates updated the security systems present upon entering the ballpark.
The systems employ Evolv Express screening technology, which uses artificial intelligence to detect potential security threats (and can filter out harmless items like car keys).
The updates made it possible for the Pirates to bring back the old bag policy, with soft-sided 16x16x8 bags allowed in the park.
Williams said they also make it possible for fans to enter the ballpark at a rate of one person per second at each scanning station, expediting the fan experience.
Switch to Self-Service
The aforementioned drink locations include self-service technology similar to what the Penguins use at PPG Paints Arena. Fans can select drinks and check out on their own (with an attendant nearby to check IDs, per Williams).
Fanatics, which sells Pirates merchandise at PNC Park, also has a self-serve station where fans can select merchandise and check themselves out.
The additions to PNC Park include an area where kids can see how tall they are measured in diamond staples like baseballs and bases (and the customary feet). The bases included measure 15” by 15” instead of the updated 18” by 18”.
Kids can measure their height in bases and baseballs… keep in mind that these are the original-sized bases, not the expanded ones. pic.twitter.com/6MfKZaTNWk
— Griffin Floyd 🇺🇦 (@GriffinFloyd62) April 4, 2023
“Those are the original ones, we need to update them,” Williams said. “I’m sure it’s a heck of a lot fewer with the new bases.”
The Pirates added a batting cage that allows kids to step inside and take a swing. Diamond Kinetics’ Swing Match technology scans the swing, telling participants which Pirates’ player their plate approach mirrors most.
The technology accounts for both left and right handed hitters. Switch hitters like Carlos Santana and Bryan Reynolds have their data from both sides of the plate uploaded to ensure a comprehensive experience.
Other additions include a “Future Voice of the Pirates” stand where kids can practice calling the games as they occur.