Along with PNC Park,  Heinz Field in Pittsburgh is the newest addition to the bustling
Pittsburgh skyline, and what an addition it is! After playing for over three decades at Three
Rivers Stadium, the Steelers followed the trend among their peer NFL teams in erecting a
new venue with all the bells and whistles, amenities, club seating, and judging from our
visit, they got it right! Opened just two months ago, Heinz Field now serves as the home
stadium for the Steelers as well as the University of Pittsburgh Panthers football team.

Heinz Field is located along the Ohio River on the riverfront, just a few hundred yards from
the doorstep of PNC Park and directly across the river is the magnificent Pittsburgh
skyline. Separating the two new venues is the site where Three Rivers once stood, now
demolished and turned into parking, although some parcels are part of the "North Shore"
development which will include an amphitheatre and office park. The land adjacent to the
river has already been developed into a pleasant riverwalk and attractive parklike setting.

Getting to the stadium
We had to search hard to find fault with Heinz Field, but the one and only criticism would be
the difficult parking situation. Following the trend in newer NFL venues, the surface
parking immediately around the stadium is sold to season ticket holders. Gold parking,
platinum parking, yadda yadda.... if the face value of your ticket breaks three figures, you
get the chance to buy a space closer to the building. Own a suite? Parking and a shoe
shine! Just kidding here, but again, the single ticket buyer is left to fend for himself. In
proximity to the stadium are many private surface lots, but many of those have been
scooped up by a municipal parking authority, and even these lots are sold on a season
ticket basis. So what is a person to do? Our advice - get down real early (we arrived 4
hours before kickoff to tailgate and hang out with Steeler fans and found a private lot real
close - $20 to park). Or park downtown and cross the Clemente Bridge, but that is a long,
long walk. Or park at Station Square, and catch the Clipper ferry boat, which docks steps
from the Gate A  main entrance to Heinz Field.

To the Steelers credit, they are well aware of the parking crunch, and publish maps of
parking lots, traffic patterns, and an elaborate guide laying out parking options and
strategies to get their fans to the stadium.

Outside the venue

Tailgating is a great Pittsburgh tradition, and on past visits here we were impressed to see
the folks tailgating here for Pirates baseball games. So no doubt that the grills were in
abundance, the Iron City Beer on ice, stereos blaring, and fans out here just having a great
time. Here in a downtown setting, in the shadows of the skyline these Steelers fans can
tailgate with the best of them!

Heinz Field itself is configured in the shape of the horseshoe, with the south end
completely open except for a large scoreboard. This does two things - from the outside the
open end serves as a main entrance, with a massive public plaza both outside and inside
the gates and a grand staircase leading down to the riverwalk and the ferry dock. All
handsomely landscaped and very appealing to the eye, of course. From the inside, fans
sitting in their seats are treated to a spectacular view of the river and downtown
Pittsburgh.

The concourses

OK, here is where things get really good. The Steelers have done an outstanding job
erecting public spaces which are large, wide and functional. Walking through gate A you
stand in a gigantic public plaza in the south end zone with a nice view of the field. On
either side are circular canopied ramps to take you upstairs, mimicking the architecture of
similar type ramps over at PNC Park. In the center of these curly ramps are escalator
towers to whisk you upstairs. The sideline concourses are also wide, brightly lit, and easy
to navigate, with points of sale strategically placed so as not to impede traffic.

It was the east concourse on the main level, named the "Coca Cola Great Hall", which just
totally blew us away in terms of its architecture, ambience, lighting and displays. We will try
to describe it for you here, but we have to advise you to go see this for yourself.

The Coca Cola Great Hall straddles the 100 level concourse on the east side of stadium,
and ceiling canopies and banners way up high are colored in bright reds, oranges and
yellows, with mood lighting adding to the effect. Four of the center posts are shaped as
massive Vince Lombardi trophies, and each one of these posts have showcases displaying
the actual trophies and memorabilia commemorating  the Steelers four world
championships. Large murals hang overhead with faces of Steelers greats and great
moments in the teams history. Keep looking and you will find old photos of Pittsburgh
streetscapes, industry, downtown shots, Forbes Field. And yes, there is space devoted to
Pitt Panthers memorabilia as well. We're certain that the names of Marino and Dorsett ring
a bell along with the legacy of nine national titles. Heard enough? There's more... Near the
fifty yard line is a three tiered bleacher area configured in a semi circle, centered by a
stage where pre game entertainment is offered. Adjacent is a large bar area and sandwich
carving station, and of course concession areas offering a multitude of food choices adds
to the mix. TV monitors are everywhere, so you don't miss a second of the action.

What a totally amazing, mind blowing public space in a football venue!!! Easily the best we
have seen. Of course we headed down from our seats mid 2nd quarter to grab a Primanti
sandwich, found seats in the bleachers and just enjoyed our food and people watching
right through halftime. We could not get enough of soaking in the atmosphere and the
ambience!

Premium seating

As is the case with today's NFL venues, Heinz Field offers a 200 level along the sidelines
with its own private, climate enclosed concourse. Two levels of suites top the club level,
each with its own concourse. To give you an idea of prices, some fans we hung out with
before the game had club tickets --- face value, $195. And these weren't even the top
priced seats!!!
Digest that, oh Buffalo fan!

The seating bowl

With about 65,000 total seats, the seating bowl is broken into three levels. All seats are
done in team colors - lower and upper level seats bright yellow, and the club seats black.
Straddling the sideline balconies are synchronized changable ad panels, while the north
end zone balcony boasts our favorite - a digital LED ad panel with great graphics and
special effects. In the south end zone is a huge jumbotron scoreboard. Here in Pittsburgh
they only have one scoreboard, rather than the two boards which are going up in venues
elsewhere. But mind you, there are hardly any seats at all in this end zone, so the one
scoreboard can be easily viewed from just about every seat in the venue. We should also
mention that atop the jumbotron board are two large bottles of "Heinz" ketchup. Each time
the home team enters the "Red" zone, these bottles tip slightly and pour "ketchup" onto
the scoreboard in a unique special effect. Thumbs up from us!

Another wonderful aspect of the seating area is the breathtaking view of the Pittsburgh
skyline. Just like PNC Park, the view of this magnificent city can best be seen from the East
sideline seating areas as well as from the rotundas in the open endzone and with this
being Monday evening the sights of the city were amazing!!!!

Concessions

"Pittsburgh sideline store", offering Steelers souvenirs and merchandise were scattered
throughout the stadium, the main one found, of course, in the "Great Hall". Pittsburgh food
items are awesome, and just as at PNC Park, we have to again mention that great "Primanti
Brothers" sandwich, offering a conconction of meat, cole slaw and french fries all slapped
together on sourdough bread. Some of the locals suggested we check out the original
Primanti deli in the Strip District to get a taste of the real thing. Great advice.. we will head
down there on a future visit!

Besides Primantis, other local favorites include Benkovitz and Quaker Steak and Lube
(wings) found in the Great Hall. Add the traditional ballpark fare, and you have a great mix
here. Outstanding!

Banners/retired numbers
While no banners or numbers are displayed in the seating bowl itself, the Steelers more
than make up for this in their elaborate historical presentation in the "Great Hall". Five
Super Bowl appearances - four championships, and tributes to the Steelers greats -
Rooney, McNally, Layne, Stautner, Greene, Ham, Blount, Bradshaw, Harris, Lambert, Noll,
Webster, Swann, among others, all displayed in this stadium for all eternity. Awesome,
awesome, awesome!

Touchdowns/extra points/fumbles

Touchdown - The Steelers "Great Hall", by far the nicest concourse in the NFL. Hey Tampa
Bay, Pirate ship is OUT; Great Hall is IN! Yo Ho!

Fumble - tight seats. Our seats were 50 yard line upper deck, and while leg room was
adequate, the shoulder space was very tight. OK, OK, spend more time on the treadmill and
less time at the Primantis stand... message received!

Fumble - single ticket sales. Tickets are in high demand here, and only about 2500 tickets
are available to the single ticket buyer. In this day and age of technology and the internet,
the Steelers still do things like it's the 60's, send in a check and a self addressed stamped
envelope after so and so date with your game request. We struck out via this route, and
went elsewhere in search of precious tickets.

Extra point - as in FedEx Field, they also trucked out "Lovin You", but that music clip
blended right into "Who Let the Dogs Out". Apparently that goofy stadium worker in the
VISA ad finally got a hold of the track. Of course the fans ate it up. With the pummeling that
Kordell and the Steelers put onto the Titans on this night, everyone was in a pretty festive
mood.

Touchdown - Throughout the stadium at each entrance to the seating area is a unique  
ceramic tiled football mural  by the children of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. Each
mural is identified by the name and location of the contributing school. Very well done!

Extra Point -  HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!! The Steelers pummeled the
Oilers...errr...Titans on this night by a 34-7 count and it wasn't that close. Coupled with the
'Skins victory over the Giants on the previous day, the win gave the roadtrippers a three
game win streak for the home teams and six of the last seven overall. Next stop, Invesco
Field at Mile High....bad news for all of you Flutie freaks out there!!!

Special Thanks!

Thank you goes to Diane Lambert of Trenton, New Jersey, Steelers season ticket holder,
who worked out a trade with us (2 Bills tickets for 2 Steeler tickets) and that is how we got
into the building on this night. Diane even went to the trouble of contacting friends to
upgrade the tickets and get us a better view. Hey Diane - great seats! Thank you and we
induct you into the Ultimate Sports Road Trip Hall of Fame.

Thanks also to the numerous friendly Pittsburgh fans who invited us to join their tailgate as
we walked around, handing us a cold IC Light and offering us food, conversation and some
friendly  Buff vs Pitt banter (Darius Kasparaitis, game 7... Flutie... on and on). It was all good
fun!

Summary
As is the case with their companion facility - Pittsburgh's PNC Park, the folks here in
Pittsburgh went to great lengths to build a stadium which is beautiful, functional, pays
great attention to detail, blends in with the surroundings, and showcases their proud
traditions and history. Heinz Field is all that and more - this stadium takes advantage of its
location near the river, its proximity to downtown, and blends these into their building to
provide sweeping vistas from inside and out. Add the size and width of common areas, the
decor, the architecture, the extra touches and the amenities, and that adds to the score.
Lastly, those great Steelers fans, blue collar, gritty, so proud of their football team and so
cognizant of their great legacy and traditions. They just love their Steelers and they let you
know it.
You know what's coming... as we described this venue to you we could not contain our
enthusiasm. Without a doubt, Heinz Field ranks right up there among the NFL's elite.  And
combined with PNC Park, this area surpasses Baltimore and KC as the finest dual Stadium
complex in pro sports. (Though D-town may provide some tough competition when Ford
Field opens next September). We are proud to once again bestow our highest rating to the
City of Pittsburgh... nice job!

SCORING:
Architecture: 6.5
Food and team store 9
Scoreboard and electronics 6.5
Ushers 6
Fan support 9
Location and neighborhood 6
Banners and history 9.5
In game entertainment 7.5
Concourses/fan comfort 6
Bonus: Tailgate scene 3,  Coca Cola Great Hall 3, Red Zone scoreboard 1
Total 73
Heinz Field
#96   




Heinz
Field        



Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania




October 29,
2001           




Tennessee
Titans
at Pittsburgh
Steelers