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Volume 20 No. 42
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Pirates to give PNC Park suites their first makeover

The Pittsburgh Pirates are going through a much-needed suite refresh at PNC Park, a ballpark considered among the crown jewels in baseball.

All 61 suites are being upgraded. The 34 best suites, situated between the first and third base lines, will get the most extensive makeovers, team President Frank Coonelly said. The multimillion-dollar project — the Pirates would not offer a more detailed cost estimate — will be completed by April 7, the Pirates’ home opener.

“Other than routine maintenance, the suites have gone untouched since we opened the park in 2001,” Coonelly said.

The improvements, designed by Populous, the park’s original architect, and local firm DLA Architects, include new furniture, refrigerators, countertops and flooring, plus 65-inch 4K televisions and charging outlets for mobile devices. The flooring is a high-end finish made of Brazilian porcelain tile. Cambria, a Pirates corporate partner and a familiar brand at sports facilities, produced the quartz countertops.

Most suite holders stuck with the park’s traditional layout with a couch.

Custom art is themed around the team’s history, including hall of famers Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, and large portraits of Forbes Field, the Pirates’ home from 1909 to 1970.

The Pirates gave suite holders a choice of three basic furniture plans from which to choose. Most of those premium patrons selected the traditional layout of a couch, cushioned chairs and a coffee table as the interior centerpiece, similar to the original design, Coonelly said.

The two other options were four cushioned chairs or six bar stools and a communal table. Elsewhere, the trend in suite design has been more a communal, kitchen-style gathering space, but in Pittsburgh, “there’s something to be said that most like what we’ve had over the years,” he said.

The design of the two rows of outdoor seats attached to the suites also remains unchanged. New seats from Irwin Seating Co. will be installed.

The Pirates are among the few MLB teams that have rolling chairs forming the top row of exterior seats with fixed seats in the second row below, and team officials opted to keep that style in place even though movable chairs take up more space, said Pat Tangen, Populous’ principal and project manager. The majority of PNC Park’s suites are 15-seaters with 11 outdoor seats and four chairs indoors along a drink rail facing the field.

The suite renovations are part of a master plan for upgrading PNC Park over the next 10-plus years. The Pirates are paying for most of the retrofit, Coonelly said, and the local Sports & Exhibition Authority is funding a small portion through a reserve account tied to ticket surcharges.