With Pirates playing early, Steelers urge fans to plan ahead for Sunday traffic

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The Steelers, Pirates and Pittsburgh police are hoping to choreograph an elaborate and orderly tap dance Sunday between the 1:35 p.m. baseball game at PNC Park and the 8:30 p.m. football game at Heinz Field -- the first time since the stadiums opened that a regular-season Steelers night game follows a daytime baseball game.

Steelers fans are being urged to wait until 6 p.m. or later if they are driving to the North Shore, to allow baseball traffic and parking lots to clear, but they will have plenty of options if they want to arrive earlier.

"It's a big sports day for the city of Pittsburgh. This will create a unique experience for both teams' fans," Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said at a briefing Wednesday. "We're encouraging our fans to be upfront and courteous to everyone involved. That includes the Pittsburgh police, Pirates fans and anybody who is working or attending both games."

Hoping to avert traffic and parking gridlock between games, police plan to close all inbound access to the North Shore (except for emergency vehicles) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., including ramps from the Fort Duquesne Bridge, West End Bridge and Parkway North.

Steelers fans with presold parking passes will not have access to those lots until 6 p.m. But if they want to attend the Pirates game or start tailgating early, they can get in by paying the baseball parking fee.

Pirates fans who park in the lots that are presold for football will have to leave after the baseball game or risk having their vehicles towed.

The Pirates complete their home schedule Sunday with a game against Cincinnati before an expected sellout crowd on Fan Appreciation Day. Only standing room tickets remained for sale Wednesday.

"As we have done in the past, we are working closely with the Steelers, ALCO (parking), the police and all other parties involved to ensure as smooth of a transition as possible," Pirates spokesman Brian Warecki said in an email. "Due to this cooperation and coordination, we do not expect our fans will be greatly inconvenienced as the standard parking procedures still apply for the Pirates game."

Although the Steelers had several thousand no-shows for their season opener, Sunday's game against Chicago is, as typical, sold out. Heinz Field seats 65,500.

PG graphic: Game day parking locations
(Click image for larger version)

The parking and traffic plan is predicated on the baseball game ending around 4:30 p.m. What happens if, heaven forbid, the game goes into extra innings?

"Obviously, there's things that are out of our control. We'll keep the media, keep our fans alert with this," Mr. Lauten said. "Some things are unavoidable."

As circumstances change, the Steelers will post alerts to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. An email blast has gone out to ticket holders and other fans and details of traffic and parking restrictions and options are posted on the team's website, www.steelers.com.

The Steelers are urging fans to consider options other than driving to the North Shore, including parking Downtown (where the rate at city-owned garages is $5); in the Strip District (for $2); or at Station Square ($10). Gateway Clipper boat shuttles from Station Square to the North Shore cost $5 each way.

The Port Authority's Light Rail Transit system offers free rides between Allegheny Station next to Heinz Field and First Avenue Station in Downtown. The system will have extra service, including two-car trains, extra trips and Subway Local service between Allegheny Station and South Hills Junction.

Stage AE will open at 4 p.m. with free admission. Fans will be able to watch the end of the Pirates game and the late-afternoon NFL games there, Mr. Lauten said.

No commuter parking today

North Shore lots and garages will not be available to commuters this morning because of the Pirates' 12:35 p.m. game against San Diego. Stadium parking will open at 9:30 a.m. with game-day rates.

More details of restrictions and parking and travel operations are posted on the Steelers' website.

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Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. First Published September 18, 2013 3:45 PM


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