Play ball? PNC Park is ready for Opening Day
Friday, April 2, 2010

[IMGR][/IMGR]When a couple feet of snow started falling on Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, the Pirates' head groundskeeper started fretting about spring.

"I didn't sleep at night sometimes wondering what was going on over here," said Manny Lopez, who continued to prepare the field Thursday when the Pirates held an open house for media to showcase changes at PNC Park for the upcoming season.

The record snowfall can cause the grass to become matted, Lopez said, requiring his grounds crew to fluff the turf after the snow melted. But, now, just a couple of days away from Monday's 1:35 p.m. season opener against the Dodgers, the outfield grass was lush and green.

"The snow hurt us quite a bit," Lopez said, "but we got on it real quick. As soon as the snow melted, we started getting the fertilizers out and the sprays and the chemicals we needed. ... We were a little behind, but we bounced back pretty good."

During Thursday's open house, the Pirates also revealed new food options, including additions to the Trib Total Media Hall of Fame Club menu, displayed promotional giveaways and discussed details for the Bill Mazeroski statue that will be unveiled Sept. 5.

There were a few physical changes to the stadium itself, including the left-field bleachers, which have been painted blue.

Another change at PNC Park was the creation of the Cambria Club, overlooking third base. The Cambria Club, which replaced four suites, can hold 70 people. Tickets range from $150 for front row to $115 for standing room and include chef-prepared food and non-alcoholic drinks.

"Say a local company wants to do some entertaining, (but) not necessarily in a suite for 15 people every night," said Lou DePaoli, executive vice president of marketing. "(They could host) maybe four to six people in a high-end private club like this."

DePaoli said half of the Cambria Club tickets for this season already have sold, including all tickets for opening day.

Among the giveaway promotions, there will be only one bobblehead: center fielder Andrew McCutchen on Aug. 6. Returning this season will be Skyblast and Buc Night.

Development of the Mazeroski statue continues, including the completion of a 12-foot model that will soon be cast in bronze. The statue will be placed outside the right-field entrance near the end of Mazeroski Way.

Behind the statue will be a wall constructed partially from bricks preserved from Forbes Field including the 406-foot mark. Fans can purchase aluminum ivy leaves to be mounted on the wall.

"To us, it was the right place to put the wall," said Patty Paytas, vice president of community affairs.