Pittsburgh has always enjoyed large sporting events downtown. Forbes Field and Pitt Stadium were located in Oakland (Pittsburgh’s second and Pennsylvania’s third most significant downtown). Three Rivers Stadium and the Civic Arena were essentially part of the city center, and the current facilities – Heinz Field, PNC Park, and Console Energy Center – are even more integrated with the “central business district” (see here regarding the corporatization of pro sports stadia).
This is a boon for so many reasons. In a nutshell, these events bring people downtown – a place already equipped to handle throngs of commuters. Downtown and its businesses benefit from the evening vitality. Every home Pirates game results in Open-Streets over the Roberto Clemente (6th Street) Bridge. Stadium goers can even enjoy biking on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail 5 minutes after a game to head home on a week night.
Contrast this to the New York Giants’ Metlife stadium in the New Jersey swamplands and the point needn’t be labored.
With the above understanding, last Sunday’s Tribune Review article headline – “Projects devour stadium parking” – should merely read “City constructs buildings downtown”. Pittsburgh’s North Shore is a few blocks (an Allegheny River’s width) from downtown proper. With opening of the North Shore Connector light rail stations in 2012 and continued North Shore development, the area will increasingly function as an extension of downtown Pittsburgh.
But what about the tailgaters? Admittedly, in July 2013 I played cornhole and drank beer on a North Shore lot that weeks later became the North Shore Place construction site. It was mildly fun. But I would be happy (if bored) playing cornhole and drinking beer anywhere in Pittsburgh. Being surrounded by parked cars added little to the experience.
Over time, as the barren North Shore landscape is built-up and gains a residential community of its own, the presumed need for “ample…convenient [car] parking”, as Pirates spokesman Brian Warecki assured us will be preserved, will appear increasingly absurd.
Rest assured, Pittsburghers will never have trouble finding nearby places to drink and eat. Too cumbersome to carry a cooler and grill on the light rail? That’s what bike cargo trailers are for.
(Featured photo, credit www.bikerumor.com)