Strip District, Downtown parking for smooth sailing to Pirates game
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The most recent Pirates weekday afternoon home game was like a wicked curveball for fans, many of whom were stuck in an epic traffic jam after parking lots overflowed.
The team is not expecting the same degree of chaos for those traveling to today's game against Arizona, because of a later start time -- 4:05 p.m. -- and a smaller expected attendance.
The July 25 game against Chicago began at 12:35 p.m. and drew 33,935, the largest crowd for a weekday afternoon game in PNC Park history. Some fans reported a two-hour ordeal trying to find parking. Police eventually directed traffic down River Avenue to lots at the industrial parks.
"We don't expect nearly the type of issues because of the start time and the expected crowd is less," Pirates spokesman Brian Warecki said in an email.
He said attendance in the "low to mid-20,000 range" is expected.
Because Arizona must travel after the game, the Pirates were required to schedule a day game.
"We decided upon 4:05 p.m. for all Thursday day games this year in an effort to make coming to the game more convenient for fans," Mr. Warecki said. "The late afternoon start time allows [fans] to enjoy a day game without having to take a full or half-day off from work or other commitments they may have during the day."
But getting to today's game will bring its own challenges, as it coincides almost perfectly with a rush hour that starts between 2 and 3 p.m. as early birds and summer slackers try to leave town.
"The best advice is to allow plenty of time to arrive," said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Jim Struzzi.
North Shore parking lots and garages will not allow commuter parking in the morning, except for lease holders, to keep spaces open for baseball traffic, said Merrill Stabile, president of Alco Parking.
Stadium parking will open at noon.
Downtown lots and garages should have more available spaces for baseball fans than on July 25 because of workers departing. "We expect that things will have cleared out a bit by then," Mr. Stabile said. One option for fans is to park Downtown and take the free ride on the T to the North Shore.
Traffic is likely to be very heavy on the inbound Parkway West, which typically jams at the Fort Pitt Tunnels during rush hour even without ballgame traffic. Mr. Struzzi recommended that fans consider alternate routes like Greentree Road and Route 60 to reach the West End and West End Bridge.
For displaced morning commuters, Mr. Stabile suggested parking in the Strip District. The lot at 15th and Smallman streets costs $6 and provides a free shuttle to Downtown.
Travelers can check real-time traffic conditions at www.511pa.com. A website and free smartphone app provide real-time information on parking space availability at nine garages in the Downtown Cultural District and the North Shore and General Robinson garages. They can be found at www.ParkPGH.org.
First Published August 9, 2012 12:00 am