30 Years: Pittsburgh welcomes four new athletic venues

Part of the 30 Years, 30 Changes series on the Pittsburgh region

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In the 1970s, cookie-cutter, dual-purpose sports stadiums were all the rage. The Pirates and Steelers shared Three Rivers Stadium, but the retro baseball park movement of the 1990s and the reality that more money could be generated for both teams if they had their own stadiums led to PNC Park and Heinz Field being built on the North Shore land Three Rivers once occupied.

How Pittsburgh became cool

Both stadiums were largely funded by local taxpayers, infamously known as Plan B. PNC Park, which was built along the Allegheny River for $216 million and opened in 2001, is one of the most popular ballparks in the country. Every year, baseball fans make Pittsburgh a destination to take in the awe-inspiring view of the city's skyline from behind home plate.

Heinz Field, which also opened in 2001, was built for $281 million and is situated along the Ohio River. The Steelers and Pitt Panthers share the stadium, which also plays host to concerts during the summer. (The first event at Heinz Field was a concert by the band 'N Sync.)

In its 12 seasons, Heinz Field has played host to four American Football Conference championship games, with the Steelers winning two of them, in 2008 and 2010. In 2011, the National Hockey League Winter Classic was played at Heinz Field, and the movie "The Dark Knight Rises" was filmed there.

Like Three Rivers Stadium, the Civic Arena, home to the Penguins since their inception in 1967, also became outdated and was the oldest arena that housed an NHL team in the past decade. The team's ownership threatened to move to Kansas City if a new arena was not erected.

The $321 million Consol Energy Center was built across the street from the Civic Arena as a result and opened in 2010.

Like PNC Park, Consol Energy Center has received rave reviews. In addition to playing host to 41 NHL regular-season games, the arena stages concerts (Paul McCartney was the first show at the new arena in August 2010) and has played host to other major sporting events, including the NCAA men's basketball tournament and the NCAA Frozen Four.

Due to a growth in the popularity of soccer in the area, Highmark Stadium near Station Square opened earlier this year as the home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the United Soccer Leagues Pro League. Its seating capacity is 3,500, but can expand to 18,000 as the franchise explores bringing Major League Soccer to the area.


First Published October 19, 2013 8:00 PM


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