One of the NFL’s oldest franchises is also one of the most successful, as far as wins and in the hearts of its fans. Owned by the Rooney family since 1933, the Pittsburgh Steelers are known for stability, community involvement and doing things the Steeler Way. This has resulted in six Super Bowl Championships, eight Super Bowl appearances and eight AFC conference championships. Since Chuck Noll was hired in 1969, the Steelers have had only two other coaches, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin… an unheard of level of continuity in the NFL. Twenty two Steelers have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including three coaches and three members of the Steelers' ownership group. Despite having a later position in the first round of each draft, the Steelers have an enviable record of picking Pro Bowlers on an annual basis. This consistency and stability have led the Steelers to having one of the most loyal fan bases in any professional sport, as generations of Pittsburgh residents have been brought up in the Steeler Way.
Since the team’s inception in 1933, the Steelers have called four stadiums home; Forbes Field, Pitt Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium and now Heinz Field. Now to some quick Heinz Field facts: The stadium opened in August of 2001, with seating for nearly 65,000 fans. This includes 56,000 “regular” seats, 7,300 club level seats and 1,544 seats within its 129 suites. Unlike many of its northern counterparts, Heinz Field has a natural turf field, albeit with an extensive underground heating system to keep the playing surface from freezing during the brutal Pittsburgh winters.
Heinz Field has several elements that set it apart from most NFL stadiums. The first is the FedEx Great Hall, a shrine to Pittsburgh’s long and successful history in the NFL. Amongst the displays are a History of the Terrible Towel; the actual lockers of several Steeler greats, including Franco Harris, Mean Joe Greene and Lynn Swann, a section devoted to the Immaculate Reception, and salutes to each of the six Super Bowl winning teams the Steelers have fielded. A second very obvious feature is the two huge Heinz Ketchup bottles atop the scoreboard. If filled with ketchup, these bottles would hold more than one million ounces of this famous brand of condiment. The bottles “dip and pour” whenever the home team reaches the red zone.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food and beverage offerings at Heinz Field reflect the diverse ethnic neighborhoods that make up the Pittsburgh area. You will find Italian, Greek, German, Polish and Eastern European fare, along with the typical American ballpark standards. Three food concessions you definitely will want to check out are Primanti's sourdough bread sandwich ($8.25), filled with meat, cole slaw and French fries (not as sides, folks... those are the sandwich ingredients!), Benkovitz for its fish sandwiches and Quaker Steak and Lube for their wings (single order $11.00, half bucket $21.00, and full bucket $35.00). The more generic Goal Line Stands found throughout the stadium have prices as follows: nachos ($7.25), hot dogs ($5.25), bottomless popcorn ($8.50), pretzels ($5.00), peanuts ($4.50), 24-ounce beer ($8.00) and soft drinks - Pepsi products ($5.50) and water ($4.00) .You will not experience long waits in line, as there are nearly 50 concession stands set up pretty evenly throughout Heinz Field.
Heinz Field offers a wide selection of beers as well. Craft beers include Redd Apple, Sierra Torpedo, Third Shift, Sam Adams Rebel, Magic Hat #9, Sierra Pale, Blue Moon and Angry Orchard, all at $8.75. Domestic beers go for $8.00 and include Coors, Coors Light, Miller Light and Yuengling. Imports are $8.75 and include Sethwicks, Guinness and Newcastle.
The Steelers merchandise stands are known as Sideline Stores and offer everything you can think of in the gold/black Steeler colors.
Pittsburgh is a city that believes in history and the importance of maintaining tradition, especially with its largely immigrant past. The Rooney family understands that, and the atmosphere they have created at Heinz Field epitomizes it. The Steel City produces little or no steel anymore, but the stadium is largely made of steel. Glass is another important construction element, a salute to PPG, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh. The three rivers of Pittsburgh are its identity, and the stadium provides wonderful views of the Allegheny. The food offerings also mirror the foods many of its fans enjoy in their ethnic neighborhoods.
The football history and legacy of the Steelers is definitely woven into the atmosphere, as the Great Hall is a celebration of the Steelers bond with the community. While many teams have adopted more contemporary uniforms, the Steelers uniforms have largely remained the same. Why?... it is the Steelers Way and it works. The field? ... there is nothing artificial here... football was meant to be played on grass, and yes in the mud.
Wisely, Heinz Field has chosen to retain the atmosphere that matches its fan base... one that is hard working, largely blue collar and totally devoted to the Steeler Way. By the way, the stadium's address? Art Rooney Avenue. The fans loved the man and wouldn't have it any other way.
The North Shore neighborhood is the home to both Heinz Field and PNC Park. Having two major sports facilities in the area has made the North Shore one of the hottest areas in Pittsburgh for new development. It has excellent access to the downtown business district via numerous bridges spanning the Allegheny River, and two light rail stations have been built in the area in recent years. In addition to being the sports hub of the Steel City, the North Shore is also home to the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Science Center. Another recent improvement to the area is the North Shore Riverfront Park and Trail, which serves as the front door to Heinz Field, and also provides docking facilities for those boats dropping off fans for a Steelers, Pirates or Pitt ball game. It is designed for year round use for joggers, bikers, picnic groups and special events.
The North Shore has always had a strong Steeler influence in its dining and entertainment offerings as Three Rivers Stadium was also in the neighborhood. One of the standards over the years has been the Clark Bar and Grill, which is across the street from the stadiums. A more recent addition is Grille 36, owned by Steeler great Jerome "The Bus" Bettis. One last neighborhood restaurant I can personally recommend is Peppi's, home of the Roethlisburger. Other Steeler-inspired items on the menu include the Joey Porter "bella" steak and the Franco Italian sub.
A person would be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated fan base than the Steeler Nation. They come dressed head to toe in black and gold, wearing steelworker helmets and sit through some of the dreariest weather imaginable with absolutely no complaints. A Steelers game ticket is hard and costly to come by, as the team has sold out nearly every game for the last 30 years. The fans can have an intimidating effect on the visiting team, as an extremely loud crowd, dressed in black and gold and waving thousands of the famed terrible towels fervently cannot be replicated on a practice field. Another reason for the strong fan base is geographic, as their fans not only come from western Pennsylvania, but the football heartlands of Ohio, as well. Pittsburgh fans see several teams as their direct rival, not just a single rivalry, as most NFL franchises have. The Bengals, the Browns and the Eagles all fit in this category due to their close proximity, while the Ravens have become a division rival in the past few seasons.
Heinz Field is located on the North Shore across the river from downtown Pittsburgh. The parking situation in close proximity to the field is dominated by lots catering to the season ticket holders, and it can be difficult for a single-game ticket holder to find a parking space. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to choose from that can be less expensive than a close-in space and will drop you right outside the stadium. The stadium is linked to the downtown area by a number of bridges, which are limited to pedestrian access on game days. Parking in the downtown area is much more abundant, especially around the Convention Center and Heinz Hall. It is then an easy walk across the bridge to the stadium. For those who prefer to be let out right at the stadium, you have both land and water options. Pittsburgh has a wonderful light rail system that has stations in the downtown area, as well as the Station Square area a bit further away. Two stations (Allegheny and Northside) will drop you off immediately outside of Heinz Field. The water option utilizes Pittsburgh's famous three rivers to drop you off right in front of the stadium. Pittsburgh Water Limo shuttles people across the Allegheny River from downtown and docks outside of the stadium. The Gateway Clipper ($10 roundtrip) journeys a bit further, as it comes up the Ohio River from the Station Square complex and drops you off at the same dock.
Another thing you need to be aware of at any NFL stadium is the need to arrive early, due to the stringent security rules relating to what can be brought to the stadium. Fans are discouraged from bringing any types of bags to the game. What you do bring must fit into a clear plastic bag no larger than specific dimensions. (Go to NFL.com for specific details on what can be brought into the stadium.) For those who are smart and travel bag-free, Heinz Field has Express Entry gates located at the Southwest Rotunda and the FedEx Grand Hall. These lines will get you to your seats much faster.
Once inside Heinz Field, you will find a number of escalators and elevators to transport you to the higher seats in the stadium.
Parking immediately outside Heinz Field is reserved for season ticket holders. Parking in the downtown area across the river will cost between $5-$15, and Station Square charges $8 plus $10 roundtrip on the Gateway Clipper up the river to Heinz Field. Honestly, the most economical way to reach Heinz Field is via the Light Rail System, which goes to all sections of city and has two stations immediately outside the stadium. The train is free on game days. Tickets honestly are a seller's market, due to the decades of sellouts the Steelers have experienced. Expect to pay upwards of $85 even for a upper deck seat. The concession prices are high, but the selection and quality of the foods is far above the standard fare at other ballparks.
One of the best things about Heinz Field is the enforcement of PRIDE, an acronym for Positive Field Experience, Respect for Each Other, Integrity, Dignified Behavior and Excellence On and Off the Field. Steeler fans are amongst the most rabid fans in the NFL, but they do abide to the PRIDE principles, which are strictly enforced
The Terrible Towel is an icon of the NFL and deserves its own mention.
The setting of Heinz Field offers just as impressive views of the river and downtown Pittsburgh as its baseball neighbor, PNC Park.
The FedEx Grand Hall is an outstanding celebration of Steeler history and tradition that is not to be missed.
The city of Pittsburgh has made a dramatic transformation from its steel mill past. Today it is a city filled with museums, parks and cultural offerings that cannot be seen in just one day. I highly recommend a three-day weekend to fully enjoy the town.
Heinz Field is home of the 6-time NFL Champion Pittsburgh Steelers and is widely considered one of the top venues in the NFL. The stadium opened in 2001 with a seating capacity of 65,050. It is a horseshoe shaped stadium with the open end holding the scoreboard and offering a view toward Point State Park. Current plans call for an additional 4,000 seats to be added on the concourse of the open end much like the seats that were constructed for the Winter Classic.
The stadium itself is named after the H.J. Heinz Company, most famous for their ketchup products. Every time the Steelers enter the red zone, 2 giant ketchup bottles on either side of the scoreboard tilt and flow "ketchup" onto the scoreboard.
Heinz Field, current home of the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, opened with a great deal of fanfare in 2001. It is the fourth stadium that the Steelers have called home.
When the stadium was being constructed, there was talk of naming it after Art Rooney, the original owner who used his $2,500 winnings from the horse track and formed a pro football club back in 1933. The H.J. Heinz company eventually won the naming rights, and the name has proven to be a good fit.
Overall, the stadium provides just the right mix of modern amenities and essential features that make it an outstanding venue for a football game. If you don't believe me, look to the big boys - in recent years, both ESPN and Sports Illustrated have ranked Heinz Field as the second-best stadium in the NFL, behind only Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
Heinz Field is easily my favorite NFL stadium. The Coca-Cola Great Hall is fantastic, the setting is beautiful (views of downtown and the incline, next to the rivers), and it's easily accessible for fans driving into town.
My only complaint would be that it's situation against the rivers can make getting into the stadium taxing (there are fewer gates that are easily accessible compared to other stadiums), thereby making for a lot of empty seats at kickoff.
Winter Classic Experience:
Normally, when you try to play a sport in a stadium that was built for another sport, you are left with less than desirable results. For instance, I have been to multiple bowl games played in Baseball stadiums and it always feels poorly done. The Winter Classic was an amazing exception. The entire spectacle was the best professional sporting event I have ever attended. I'm not going to do a full blown reveiw because the parking, access and food & beverage portions are exactly the same as a Steelers or Pitt Panthers game at Heinz Field. The atmosphere, access and fans are where the difference came in and are the areas I will touch on here.
First off, the day before the game, the NHL put on a "alumni" game which featured former stars from both the Penguins and the Capitals including Mario Lemeuix. The game was actually Lemeuix's idea. By all accounts, every aspect of the alumni game was botched and led to serious public backlash. First off, tickets were $50 but less than 10,000 were sold. Then they only opened one gate (gate B) to the stadium and only a few concession stands. Then the actual game ended after just 2 periods and with a tied score. The reason given for the small amount of tickets sold and limited access was because the Capitals wanted their practice closed to the public. Fine, but why not just schedule ample time between the 2 events? Lets just say it was not a good way for the NHL to kick off the weekend.
Luckily, the NHL knows how to put on an amazing outdoor event and the rest of the weekend more than made up for the alumni game mess. To start off, Pittsburgh always offers from public transportation on New Years eve for their First Night event. They extended this for the entire weekend with approximately 100 buses going directly to the stadium from various parts of the city. It was a very nice gesture and was heavily used.
Another great aspect of the atmosphere was the welcoming of tailgating, an odd occurance for a hockey game. Since the game was moved back from a 1pm puck drop to 8pm due to warm weather, it led to people spending all day enjoying the weather with football style tailgating. Near the stadium, there were tons of events such as a puck shooting area where you could actually take shots on Sidney Crosby's famous dryer that he shoots pucks at in his basement. There was also a public outdoor ice rink that used the actual boards and zambonis from the Civic Arena, the Penguins former home.
The stadium itself was spectacular looking. No expense was spared in covering the Steelers logos and making the stadium look as much like a purpose built outdoor hockey arena as possible. This is the area where one time events usually fail miserably but the NHL did an amazing job.
The fans themselves were great. Our seats were actually in the Capitals section, low and the furthest corner from the ice surface. I thought for sure we wouldn't be able to see much, but we could see all the action. There was a Caps fans who came in extremely wasted, with his middle finger raised in the air during the Canadian National Anthem. Security saw it and had him removed before the anthem was even over. The NHL also had a band play a set between each intermission keeping everyone entertained. The first Intermission had Styx who played Pittsburgh favorite Renegade along with a few other songs (sadly no Mr. Roboto however). The second Intermission featured The Clarks, a local band that has had moderate success across the country with their albums.
Of all the one use events I have attended, this is the only one I have ever enjoyed. The NHL has a reputation of putting on great outdoor events and the Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh certainly lived up to that reputation.
Steelers fans know how to get rowdy on big third down plays! Heinz field is a different NFL experience than you might expect, but it a good way.
PS dont expect urinals at Heinz Field...
When someone mentions the city of Pittsburgh, normally the first thought that comes to mind is its football team. The Steelers are woven into the fabric of the city, and it’s evident from the moment you enter the city. When you fly into Pittsburgh International Airport, as you go to pick up your bags, you will pass two statues, one of George Washington and the other of Franco Harris making the “Immaculate Reception.” If that doesn’t explain the way the people of Pittsburgh think, I’m not sure what does. The big ketchup bottle that the Steelers play in is one of great stadiums in the NFL. Heinz Field is perfect for the diehard football fan or for someone that just needs to see the great stadiums of the sports world.
three rivers brought the action more to life ...heinz field much nicer, but nothing beat big plays at 3rivers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are the most successful team since the NFL/AFL merger, with six Super Bowl titles. For four of those championships, they shared Three Rivers Stadium with the Pittsburgh Pirates. When baseball went retro in the mid-1990s, the Pirates followed suit by planning PNC Park, and the Steelers had an option to renovate Three Rivers into a football-only facility. But with their three division rivals all boasting new venues, the Steelers ownership wanted to get in on the act. The city eventually agreed to build two separate venues along with a convention center. Though controversial for its use of public funds, the project has revitalized the North Shore, with the two stadiums standing a few blocks away and making Pittsburgh one of the premier sports destinations in the country.
Heinz Field is a barebones dump. It has that goofy open end zone, and another end where the seats are so high they might as well be in another stadium. Any atmosphere that is generated is in spite of, not because of, Heinz Field. It's really a shame that a team as decorated as the Steelers calls it home. Compared to, say, Invesco Field, it looks like a toy. It's cheap at almost every turn. The area around it is not great. If you're not attached to a tailgate, you either have a considerable walk to downtown, which isn't very exciting, or you can try and squeeze into one of the relatively few bars that are proximate to (the wonderful) PNC Park. The scoreboard stinks, the PA is ridiculously loud, and the seats are hideous. If a lesser team played here, it would be the laughing stock that it should be.
Very nice stadium and some of the most passionate fans in the NFL. I still enjoy PNC park more however it is a great venue and area.
One of the handful of cities that lay claim to the moniker of City of Champions is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One of the reasons they can legitimately make that claim is the success of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have established themselves as one of the strongest franchises in the NFL having won Super Bowls in 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005, and 2008. Combined with similar success from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Penguins, the city of Pittsburgh has been quite chesty about their teams. Combine that with some of the best facilities in their respective leagues, and Pittsburgh becomes a must-see stop for the seasoned sports traveler.
The Steelers were established in 1933, but it is their more recent history that has really established them as one of the model franchises in the league. The Steelers claim one of the best ownership groups in all of sports with the Rooney Family holding the team since its inception. Since 1969 they have had only three head coaches in Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, and Mike Tomlin. This has given the Steelers an aura of unprecedented stability.
In 2001, the Steelers moved into the publicly owned Heinz Field. This has put the Steelers at the forefront of the football experience. Heinz Field is routinely one of the best NFL stadiums on fan experience lists. Heinz Field listed as the 6th best stadium experience of 2013 on the Stadium Journey annual ranking. It seems that the City of Champions has established the Black and Gold Standard.
Great Stadium to watch a ball game in. The views are excellent and the team is usually a championship contender.
Heinz field sitting on the river banks and its Steeler HOF attached are hard to beat!
I went up for the Broncos/Steelers game this past December and had a great time. The stadium is in a great setting and the atmosphere around the stadium is electric. There really isn't a bad seat in the stadium. Food was delicious as well. Really was impressed with the overall experience.
Also the Steelers fans weren't rude or obnoxious to the Broncos fans and that is always a bonus. Everyone was treated with respect and there to see the game.
In 2009 I traveled to the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers to see them take on the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC North clash. It was the beginning of November and both teams were still competing for a playoff spot. The night before this game, I also got to see the Pitt Panthers play my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This is a beautiful stadium, but the overall experience does have its flaws.
F&B - One of those flaws is not the food selection. Plenty of concessions and plenty of options for food. I unfortunately did not pay as much attention to the beer selection, but I do remember that the food was delicious.
Atmosphere - To say I was a little disappointed with the Steelers fan base is an understatement. In a division match up against a major rival, I expected a fever pitch atmosphere from last row in the upper deck seat. What I got was a fan base that only seemed half interested and did not provide what I call a suitable home field advantage. The fans are knowledgeable and good people, but the environment was weak to say the least in terms of creating a home field advantage. There was some solid tailgating though, and that was a redeeming quality.
Neighborhood: You are a short walk from downtown Pittsburgh, but there really isn't all that much to do in downtown Pittsburgh. Vendors line the outside of the stadium selling food and Steelers memorabilia, and you feel safe.
Fans: The Steelers have great and loyal fans, but they failed miserably in giving their team a proper home field advantage against a division opponent.
Access: I remember that we had to park far as hell away from the stadium, and that was pretty damn annoying.
ROI: The stadium sells out and the Steelers continue to consistently be one of the NFL's top franchises. This is a huge step up from Three Rivers Stadium, and a place the Steelers can call home for years to come.
Extras: The best part of Heinz Field is the extras. The stadium itself is aesthetically beautiful. The yellow and black fit perfectly and there isn't a bad seat in the house. The Steelers Hall Of Fame is stunning. Larger than life, and featuring six Lombardi Trophies, its a place that all football fans need to visit before they die.
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