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  • Patricia Beninato

Petersen Sports Complex - Pittsburgh Panthers

Photos by Patricia Beninato, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Petersen Sports Complex Robinson Street Extension Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Year Opened: 2011 Capacity: 900

Hail to Pitt Baseball

Baseball isn’t the main sports attraction at the University of Pittsburgh. Still, it was there first, the program being created all the way back in 1869 when the school was known as Western University of Pennsylvania. Currently in the ACC, the team plays under head coach Mike Bell at Charles L. Cost Field, the newest addition to the Petersen Sports Complex on Pitt’s campus. Built in 2011 and named for a former Pitt running back (I don’t know why either), it’s a cozy little park in which to enjoy Panthers baseball with up-to-date amenities.

Food & Beverage 4

For such a small venue, Charles L. Cost Field has a decent–and affordable–menu. The usual suspects of hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, fries, and sodas are there, but you can also create your own burger. The Fiery Panther burger is topped with Cajun seasoning, pepper jack cheese, and BBQ sauce. You can also get the HSL grilled chicken sandwich with bacon, grilled peppers and onions, provolone cheese and ranch sauce on a pretzel bun. Sandwiches run between six and nine dollars.

Pitt sports venues started serving alcohol this year with domestic and premium beers and wine. Wine will run you $10, while the beers range from $10-$12. If you want to run classic with a hot dog and a Bud Light, expect to pay $15. The concessions stand also offers various combos of food and drink, either $10 or $12. Maybe you wouldn’t head here strictly to eat, but the variety here is pretty good.

Concessions at Petersen Sports Complex, Photo by Patricia Beninato, Stadium Journey

Atmosphere 3

Charles L. Cost Field underwent a bit of a makeover last year, with a modern state-of-the-art video screen installed in center field and the synthetic playing surface replaced. It can hold roughly 1500 people, including standing room only. Seats are pretty standard, but all have excellent views of the field. If you sit down the right-field line, you’ll have a nice view of the Pittsburgh skyline. Suppose you like minor league baseball but aren’t a fan of the constant promotions. In that case, Pitt’s PA announcer is your guy, reporting on the game fairly straightforwardly, allowing you to enjoy it without having to dodge t-shirt guns and overly friendly mascots.

Neighborhood 4

As part of the Petersen Sports Complex, Charles L. Cost Field is almost dead center on Pitt’s campus in the Oakland neighborhood, across the street from Peterson Events Center. Fifth Avenue and Forbes Avenue, the main arteries through campus, are easy walks away. Pitt’s main hospital complex is located here, so you’ll find Residence Inn by Marriott and Hilton Garden Inn, among other major hotels in the area. You’ll also find restaurant chains like Panera Bread and Five Guys, but there’s a host of independent places where you can get just about any type of cuisine. Standouts include Hunan Bar for top-notch Chinese and Las Palmas, regularly hailed as having the best tacos in Pittsburgh. If you just want snacks or beers, bars such as Hemingway’s Pub and Thirsty Scholar are worth visiting. The area’s patrolled by both city and university police, so while you always need to be alert in an urban neighborhood, it’s not dangerous.

Fans 3

The weather was borderline dreadful for the game I attended, chilly and rainy, but an alumni reunion and students populated the field a little bit more than I expected. They cheered at the right times, although I would hesitate to call them enthusiastic. This was also a makeup game that had been initially scheduled for the previous weekend. Again, this is a small venue, and I’d venture to say that it doesn’t get anywhere near capacity crowds unless it was a playoff game. Nevertheless, it wasn’t totally dead, so I’ll give the fans a middle-of-the-road grade.

Access 4

Interstate 376, aka the Parkway, is the best bet to reach Charles L. Cost Field if you’re driving; from either direction, follow the signs for Forbes Avenue and Petersen Events Center since the field is literally just across the street from that venue. Numerous parking garages surround the area, with an average price of $10, and there are several Port Authority bus lines that run from downtown to campus. Pitt has its own intra-campus bus system, but it’s not available to the public unless you’re a Pitt student or with one. The entrances are all wheelchair-accessible, and unlike Petersen Events Center, they’re relatively level to the street. Restrooms are big and well-maintained, also with easy access for everyone.

Return on Investment 3

Since baseball’s not the big sport at Pitt, tickets are very inexpensive–at the game I attended, which was against Duke, they were eight dollars. You can buy tickets through Ticketmaster, but there really isn’t a reason why you should have to pay those extra fees since the games aren’t going to sell out. Students and alumni get in free, and I was told that discounted tickets were available for their guests, although I wasn’t given a number. So if you absolutely love baseball and don’t care who’s playing, grab a ticket and enjoy the game if you’re in the area.

Extras 2

There’s a small souvenir stand on the main concourse selling Pitt baseball shirts and similar merchandise, but that’s about it. Not a lot of staff either, but all were very friendly. You can only have so much in such a little venue.

Final Thoughts

College baseball isn’t really a thing in Pittsburgh, so I wouldn’t call Charles L. Cost Field a must-see destination for visitors unless they’re absolute baseball fanatics. Pitt, though, is a Division I school, so the money’s available to make things nice, and this venue is a pleasant place to while away a lovely spring day and watch some no-frills baseball.

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