Pittsburgh, PA
February 4, 2023
    News           Sports           Lifestyle           Classifieds           About Us
The Dining Guide
Pittsburgh Map
The Morning File
Headlines by E-mail
Home >  Sports >  Pirates Printer-friendly versionE-mail this story
Pirates Technology park

Sunday, April 15, 2001

By Ed Bouchette, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

The seven, tall light standards loom over PNC Park like ghosts of Forbes Field past, but this is not your grandfather's baseball park.

And no one may be happier about that than your grandfather.


The scoreboard-- an InfoMotion graphic


The Pirates' new playpen on the North Side has combined comfort, convenience, aesthetics and amusement by mixing modern technology with old-fashioned ideas about the way baseball should be played and viewed.

The light standards with their 2,500-watt bulbs, an out-of-town scoreboard, real grass that has to be cut with a lawnmower and a dirt infield are reminiscent of baseball as it was presented in Pittsburgh before 1970.

But don't let that fool you -- 21st century gizmos empower the place.

Forbes was built for less than the cost of the $2.1 million Sony Jumbotron in PNC Park. It is one of several boards and other modern features that will enhance the baseball experience in Pittsburgh even if, on occasion, the baseball itself doesn't carry the day.

From a scoreboard with the clarity and versatility of digital television to a sound system Christina Aguilera would love, the baseball experience in PNC Park will be nothing like it was in Three Rivers Stadium.

That includes, of course, the gorgeous view of downtown.

"This ballpark is not an old-fashioned ballpark, but it's really about enjoying the game of baseball," said Steve Greenberg, the Pirates' vice president for new stadium development. "There's not a lot of ancillary things here that will divert your attention from the game. Watch the game, enjoy the food and drink, look at the view, socialize and that's it."

While no one was able to see Downtown from inside Three Rivers Stadium, few also were able to get the kind of view of the field itself that they will have in PNC Park. That view will be accentuated by the various scoreboards, 658 twenty-seven-inch flat-screen television monitors, and the sound system.

The Sony Jumbotron, 24 feet by 42 feet in left-center, will be accompanied by two LED boards on the facades in right and left fields. The boards, manufactured by Yesco of Salt Lake City, are the first such boards used outdoors in a Major League baseball park and, through color animation, will entertain, inform and advertise. The facade also will contain scoreboards with basic information, such as ball and strike count, number of outs, the inning and the game's score.

The out-of-town scoreboard will display the results of other games around the league. (John Beale, Post-Gazette)

"This is going to be a major entertainment package," Greenberg said. "The advantage we have now is that in Three Rivers Stadium, all the sound came in from center field. On a windy day, for baseball or football, you could never understand the [public address announcer].

"The clarity of this sound system should be just as we're sitting here. So you should be able to hear every word, understand everything the P.A. guy says, and the music should be as clear as turning on your stereo."

The Jumbotron also will include captions for the hearing impaired.

Besides the light standards, the most notable Forbes Field look-alike is the out-of-town scoreboard, installed by White Way Signs of Chicago. It's low to the ground in right field. Team names will be shifted manually on slats, but the score will be electronic. A unique feature will be the use of Sports Ticker, a news service which provides constant updates about other major league games in progress, to provide not only updated scores but also pinpoint the position of runners on a diamond layout next to each out-of-town game and light up the team at bat.

Lights will show, for example, men on first and second and if the next player hits a triple, the light will move to third and the score will change. The Pirates will be the first team to use such a system in their ballpark.

Three full-time employees will operate the scoreboard and various part-time employees will be involved in delivering the entertainment package that includes the Pirate Parrot and pre-game activities.

"I tell the staff, it's like a Broadway show every night," Greenberg said. "We have to direct it from beginning to end. It's an important part of the game today, the entertainment package at this ballpark, and we treat it like that. We're going to have scripts and everything every night."

Another change from Three Rivers Stadium will take place as soon as patrons walk into the new ballpark. Fans will insert their tickets in a slot, where a bar code will be read by a scanner, which will allow them to walk through the Alvarado turnstiles. The scanner will relay information to a computer, where the Pirates can determine who used their ticket that night.

"If your tickets aren't used for four, five games, the printout will show it," Greenberg said. "We can call and say we understand you haven't used your ticket, is there anything we can do to help you out? It's really from a marketing standpoint. We're only here to help."

The Pirates also will assist you in spending your money once you're inside. There will be 10 ATM machines throughout the ballpark through, naturally, PNC Bank. Fans will be able to spend that money at the various ballpark food and beverage concessions and souvenir stores.

"It's really all about convenience and enjoying the experience of the game," Greenberg said.

Oh, you mean they play a game, too?

Next: Workers proud of what they have wrought

Back to top Back to top E-mail this story E-mail this story
Search | Contact Us |  Site Map | Terms of Use |  Privacy Policy |  Advertise | Help |  Corrections