Monday, November 21, 2016

How to Be a Devils Fan In Pittsburgh -- 2016-17 Edition

The New Jersey Devils make their 1st trip to Pittsburgh in the 2016-17 season this coming Saturday. I like Pittsburgh as a city very much. I admire the Steelers. I respect the Pirates and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. But I loathe the Penguins.

Why? Because I have taste. And because Commissioner Gary Bettman loves Crosby and has fixed games for him. Including, as of last June, 2 Stanley Cups.

Before You Go. Pittsburgh is at roughly the same latitude as New York City, so roughly the same weather can be expected. As always, check out the newspaper website (the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) before you head out. They're predicting high 50s for Sunday afternoon and mid-40s for the night, with some showers.

Pittsburgh is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you won't have to adjust your timepieces.

Tickets. The Penguins averaged 18,548 fans per home game last season. That's more than a sellout, and it includes standing-room. This has been the case pretty much since Mario Lemieux arrived over 30 years ago (has it been that long already?), and it will be the case as long as Crosby is around.

Penguins tickets are also insanely expensive. In the lower bowl, you can expect to pay at least $223 between the goals and $112 behind them. In the upper bowl, at least $110 between the goals and $75 behind them.

Getting There. I'm not going to kid you here: There's only one way to do so, and that's by car. You do not want to fly, because you'll end up spending over a thousand bucks and change planes in Philadelphia to go less than 400 miles, and the airport is out in Imperial, Pennsylvania, near Coraopolis and Aliquippa -- it's almost as close to West Virginia and Ohio as it is to downtown Pittsburgh. Oh, hell, no!

You do not want to take the train, because the Amtrak schedule just doesn't work. It's relatively cheap at the moment, $156 round-trip. But the Pennsylvanian leaves Penn Station at 10:52 AM, and doesn't get to Pittsburgh's station of the same name until 8:05 PM, after the first puck-drop. And there's no overnight train that would leave at, say, 11 PM and arrive at 8 AM. And going back, the Pennsylvanian leaves at 7:30 AM and arrives back at 4:50 PM. No good. Furthermore, this being Thanksgiving weekend, train rides back on Sunday are sold out anyway.

Greyhound isn't much better, but at least you have options. There are 14 buses a day between New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal and Pittsburgh, and it's $166 round-trip (though advanced purchase can get it down to $124 -- I'm guessing Thanksgiving weekend is also the reason these prices are higher than normal). Leaving at 6:15 AM on Tuesday will get you to downtown Pitt at 5:55, giving you just enough time to get to a hotel and then get to the arena for a 7:00 start. The Greyhound station is at 55 11th Street, across Liberty Avenue from the Amtrak station.

The only sensible way is by car – especially if there's more than one of you going and you can take turns driving. It’s 360 miles from the Prudential Center in downtown Newark to the PPG Paints Arena in downtown Pittsburgh.

Take any highway that will get you to Interstate 78: For most of you, this will be the New Jersey Turnpike (Exit 14), the Garden State Parkway (Exit 142), or Interstate 287 (Exit 21). Follow I-78 West all the way through New Jersey, to Phillipsburg, and across the Delaware River into Easton, Pennsylvania. Continue west on I-78 until reaching Harrisburg. There, you will merge onto I-81. Take Exit 52 to U.S. Route 11, which will soon take you onto I-76. This is the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the nation’s first superhighway, opening in 1940.

You'll be on it for another 3 hours – Pennsylvania is huge compared to a lot of Northeastern States. The political consultant James Carville, who got Bob Casey Sr., father of current U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr., elected Governor in 1986, says, "Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with Alabama in the middle." He wasn't kidding: Between Philly and Pitt, it is very, very rural, hence the nickname "Pennsyltucky." It certainly explains the State's love of football: The Philadelphia Eagles, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penn State and high school ball. It also explains why John McCain and Mitt Romney thought they could win Pennsylvania in a Presidential election, and why Donald Trump actually did.

You'll take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Exit 57, the signs showing I-376 and U.S. 22 – the same Route 22 you might know from New Jersey, which I-78 was designed to replace – and the sign will say "Pittsburgh."
There will be several exits on I-376, the Penn-Lincoln Parkway, into the city of Pittsburgh. Most likely, if your hotel (which I hope you've reserved before you left) is downtown, you'll take Exit 71B, "Second Avenue." If you're not staying over, and just going for the game, take Exit 72B for Boulevard of the Allies. Make a right on Gist Street, then a left on Fifth Avenue. The arena will soon be on your right.

From North Jersey, you will probably need almost 6 hours just for driving. I recommend at least 2 rest stops, preferably after crossing over into Pennsylvania around Easton, and probably around either Harrisburg or Breezewood. So the whole thing, assuming nothing goes wrong, will probably take about 8 hours.

In other words, if you're driving in just for the game, and leaving right thereafter, you should leave New Jersey at 10 AM to arrive by 6 PM, and then leave at 10 PM to arrive back home around 6 AM. Again, I recommend getting a hotel and staying over. After all, you're not going to be in much shape to go to work on Wednesday morning, so you might as well ask for two days' off.

Once In the City. Pittsburgh has, by American standards, a long history. It was settled by the French as Fort Duquesne (Doo-KANE) in 1717, and captured by the British in 1758, and renamed Fort Pitt, for Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder. The General who captured it, John Forbes (for whom the Pirates' former park Forbes Field would be named), was a Scotsman, and he intended the town that grew around it to be named "Pittsburgh" -- pronounced "Pitts-burrah," like the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

From 1891 to 1911, the H was dropped from the city's name, and this was reflected on the Pirates' uniforms, which sometimes read "PITTSBURG," as seen on the famous 1909 "T-206" baseball card of Honus Wagner. But the Germanic "Pittsburg" went back to the Scottish "Pittsburgh," while keeping the Germanic pronunciation. (There is, however, a town named Pittsburg, with no H, in Kansas.)
With this long history, a great architectural diversity, and a dramatic skyline with lots of neat-looking skyscrapers, Pittsburgh looks like a much bigger city than it actually is. While the metropolitan area is home to 2.7 million people, the city proper has only 306,000, having lost over half its population since the nearby steel mills, coal mines, and other factories closed starting in the 1970s.

The reduction of blue-collar jobs led people to take comfort in their sports teams, especially in the 1970s. Either the Pirates or the Steelers made the Playoffs in every year of that decade, both of them did so in 4 of those 10 years, and the University of Pittsburgh (or just "Pitt," though they don't like that nickname at that school) had an undefeated National Championship season in 1976. The Pirates won 2 World Series in the decade, the Steelers 4 Super Bowls in 6 years.

Calendar year 1979, with spillover into January 1980, was an annus mirabilis, in which the "Steel Curtain" won Super Bowl XIII in January, the "Bucs" (or "Buccos," or "Lumber Company," or "Family") won the World Series in October, and the Steelers then went on to win Super Bowl XIV, with the Pirates' Willie Stargell and the Steelers' Terry Bradshaw being named Co-Sportsmen of the Year by Sports Illustrated and the city government advertising itself as the City of Champions.

The the ABA's Pipers were gone early the decade, but the city got a fictional basketball team because, in 1979, it was considered cool enough to film a sports movie there: The astrology-inspired The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, starring Julius "Dr. J" Erving.

(It was also at that time that, in order to ride the Pirates/Steelers bandwagon, the NHL's Penguins switched their colors from navy blue and yellow to black and gold, but it was several more years before they became a championship contender.)

While the loss of industry did mean a sharp, long-term decline, the financial, computer and health care industries opened new doors, and Pittsburgh is very much a now and tomorrow city. And they love their sports, having won 14 World Championships in 19 trips to their sports’ finals (which gives them a .737 winning percentage in finals, the best of any city of at least 3 teams) -- and that doesn't count the 9 National Championships won by Pitt football, the Negro League Pennants won by the Homestead Grays (10) and the Pittsburgh Crawfords (4), or the 1968 ABA Championship won by the Pipers.

Pittsburgh has numbered streets, moving east from Point State Park, where the Allegheny River to the north and the Monongahela River to the south merge to become the Ohio River -- hence the name of the former Pittsburgh sports facility, Three Rivers Stadium. North-south streets start their numbers at the Monongahela, and increase going north.

There is a subway system in the city, and it's free within the downtown triangle. But outside that area, a 1-zone ride is $2.50, and a 2-zone ride is $3.75. A 75-cent surcharge is added during rush hour, thus said subway fare is not free at that time. These fares are the same for city buses, although they're never free within the downtown triangle.
The sales tax in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is 6 percent, and Allegheny County (including the City of Pittsburgh) pushes it to 7 percent. ZIP Codes for Pittsburgh start with the digits 15, and for the rest of Western Pennsylvania 16. The Area Code for the city is 412, and for the suburbs 724, with 878 overlaid for both.

The old Pittsburgh Press, once the 2nd-largest newspaper in Pennsylvania behind the Philadelphia Inquirer, went out of business due to a strike in 1992, before the city's remaining daily, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, brought it back in online form in 2011. That strike gave Richard Mellon Scaife, the current head of the legendary Pittsburgh metals and banking family, a chance to turn a local suburban paper into the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, spouting his right-wing fanatic views. It may be that the P-G brought back the Press to give the city 2 liberals voices against the 1 nutjob voice.

Going In. The PPG Paints Arena -- the name was changed from the CONSOL Energy Center a few weeks ago -- is right downtown. The official address is 1001 Fifth Avenue. It was built across Centre Avenue from the Penguins' previous home, the Civic Arena, now demolished, and its address of 66 Mario Lemieux Place has been stricken from the U.S. Postal Service's records.
If you're driving in, parking is remarkably cheap for a big-league sporting event: It can be had at most nearby lots for as little as $6.75. You're most likely to be going in by the south (Fifth Avenue) or west (Washington Place) entrances.

The new arena seats 18,087 for Penguins and other hockey games, including the 2013 NCAA Championships (a.k.a. the Frozen Four); and 19,000 for basketball, for college tournaments and, in the unlikely event the NBA returns to Pittsburgh, the pros. The NCAA held its hockey Final Four, the Frozen Four, there in 2013.

Just as the Civic Arena hosted the Beatles on one of their North American tours, its successor opened with a concert by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney on August 18, 2010.  It's been rated one of the country's top concert venues.

The building and opening of this arena means that, for perhaps the first time in franchise history, the Penguins' long-term future in Pittsburgh is secure. The rink is laid out north-to-south. The Penguins attack twice toward the north end of the arena.
Food. Pittsburgh is a city of many ethnicities, and most of them love to eat food that really isn’t good for you: Irish, Italian, Polish, Greek, and African-Americans with Soul Food and Barbecue. (Yes, I did mean to capitalize those last two. The styles deserve it.)

Primanti Brothers, the famous Pittsburgh deli chain that puts French fries on sandwiches, has a stand at Section 119. Chef's Carvery serves sandwiches outside 107. Stack, at 108, also serves sandwiches. SH Smokehouse, a barbecue stand, is at 205. A bar called the Miller Lite Brewhouse is outside 207 and overlooks the city's skyline. Highmark Healthier Choices is at 103, 106, 113, 116, 206, 211 and 230. Dairy Queen is at 105 and 234. Pizza Hut is at 107, 120, 212 and 232. Nakama Express serves Japanese food at 101, 105 and 111. Burgatory serves burgers, fries and shakes at 206. Pastries A-la-Carte is at 102.

Pierogi nachos, a Pittsburgh specialty, are served at stands all over the arena. And, just to show you that Pittsburgh is a civilized city, there are Dunkin Donuts stands at 109, 118 and 212.

Team History Displays. Because the Penguins are the arena's only major tenant, their championship banners are hung over center ice: The 1991, 1992, 2009 and 2016 Stanley Cups; the 1991, 1992, 2008, 2009 and 2016 Conference Championships; and the Division titles in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2008, 2013 and 2014. (They won the Cup in 1992 and 2016 without finishing 1st in their Division.)
As the Devils do, the Penguins hang their retired numbers along the side. In their case, 1 on each side: 21, Michael Briere; and 66, Mario Lemieux. Most likely, the 68 of Jaromir Jagr will be retired when he retires from hockey -- which he will do, eventually. And, of course, the 87 of Sidney Crosby will also go up there.
The Penguins have a team Hall of Fame, but I don't know where the display is at the arena. The 18 current members are:

* From the pre-Cup years, 1967 to 1990: General manager Jack Riley, center Syl Apps Jr. (son of the Toronto Maple Leafs legend), right wings Jean Pronovost and Rick Kehoe, defenseman Dave Burrows and goaltender Les Binkley.

* From their 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup Champions: Team owner Edward J. DeBartolo (father of the former San Francisco 49ers owner), longtime front office executive Elaine Heufelder (one of the few women with her name stamped on the Stanley Cup), general manager Craig Patrick (of hockey's first family, grandson of Lester Patrick), head coach Bob Johnson -- known as Badger Bob because he had been the head coach of the University of Wisconsin -- center Mario Lemieux, right wing Joe Mullen, defensemen Paul Coffey and Ulf Samuelsson, broadcaster Mike Lange, organist Vince Lascheid, and locker room attendants Anthony Caggiano and Frank Sciulli.

In 2003, a Pittsburgh Penguins Millennium Team was announced, displayed in a mural that was moved from the old arena to the new one: Johnson, Patrick, Binkley, Burrows, Kehoe, Pronovost, Lemieux, Jagr, Coffey, Samuelsson, later coach Herb Brooks (also head coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that featured later Penguin Mark Johnson, Badger Bob's son); and, also from the 1991 and '92 Cups, goalie Tom Barrasso, center Ron Francis, defenseman Larry Murphy, left wing Kevin Stevens and right wing Mark Recchi.

So far, no members of their 2009 Cup winners have been elected to either group. And, as I said, Jaromir Jagr has not been. Oddly, neither has center Bryan Trottier, a star from the Islander dynasty who played on then Pens' Cup winners and has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Nor has Scotty Bowman, director of player development for the '91 and '92 Cups and head coach for the '92 win, replacing Johnson.

Lascheid was the organist at Three Rivers Stadium and the Civic Arena. Much like Gladys Goodding at Ebbets Field and the old Madison Square Garden, and John Kiley at Fenway Park and the Boston Garden, Lascheid was the answer to a trivia question: Who was the only man to play for the Pirates, the Steelers and the Penguins?

In 1998, The Hockey News named its 100 Greatest Players. In spite of their still being active, they named Lemieux, Jagr and Coffey. And a statue of Leimeux stands outside the new arena.
Badger Bob's son, and one of this players at Wisconsin, was Mark Johnson. Mark and Mike Ramsey were both members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, and both went on to play for the Penguins. No member of the Penguins was selected for the 1972 Team Canada that also beat the Soviet Union. Bowman and Lemieux have been named to Canada's Walk of Fame.

Lemieux was elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame. He, Johnson, Bowman, Patrick and Mullen have received the Lester Patrick Trophy for contributions to hockey in America.

UPDATE: Lemieux, Jagr, Coffey, Francis and Crosby were named to the NHL's 100th Anniversary 100 Greatest Players in 2017.

Stuff. The PensGear store is on the ground floor, on the northwest corner of the arena, on Centre Avenue. Smaller souvenir stands are all around the arena.

There aren't many books about the team. Right after the 2nd of the back-to-back Cup wins, Dave Molinari published Best In the Game: The Turbulent Story of the Pittsburgh Penguins' Rise to Stanley Cup Champions. As for their more recent triumph, Andrew Podnieks wrote Year of the Penguins: Celebrating Pittsburgh's 2008-09 Stanley Cup Championship Season.

Highlight DVDs from the 4 Stanley Cup seasons are available. The NHL also produced a Pittsburgh Penguins: 10 Greatest Games video, but it was released before the 2009 Cup win. Not surprisingly, the 1991 and 1992 Cup clinchers are included. Also unsurprisingly, there are no games in the set from before Lemieux arrived in 1984.

The set includes Lemieux's 5-goal-3-assist Playoff game against the Flyers in 1989, another 5-goal game from Number 66 clinching their NHL record 16th straight win in 1993, their 4-overtime Playoff epic with the Washington Capitals in 1996, Lemieux ending his 2nd retirement to score against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2000, Darius Kasparaitis' overtime winner against the Buffalo Sabres in a Playoff Game 7 in 2001, and, to your dismay and mine, 2 games against the Devils: The 1991 Playoff clincher and a 2006 game with Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, none more than 20 years old, all scoring to beat our boys.

During the Game. A November 19, 2014 article on The Hockey News' website ranked the NHL teams' fan bases, and listed the Penguins' fans 9th: "Hugely popular, but the fan base left the building last time Pens were a bad team." That is not Steeler-level loyalty.

If you were a Flyers fan going into the PPG Paints Arena, or a Cleveland Browns fan or (a little less so) a Baltimore Ravens fan, going into Heinz Field to face the Steelers, you might be in a bit of trouble. But as a Devils fan going into the PPGPA, you'll be fine. You can wear your Scarlet &Black gear without fear of drunken bums physically hassling you.

They're certainly not going to hurt you if you don't provoke them. Just don't say anything bad about Lemieux or the Steelers, and you should be fine. And, for God's sake (not to mention that of its inventor, the late Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope), do not mock or deface The Terrible Towel, that great symbol of Steelerdom. You might not see any at a Penguins game, but they take that particular item very seriously, even pointing out that other NFL teams have lost after mocking it, leading to the phrase "The Curse of the Terrible Towel."

The Cleveland Indians are in the American League, Pittsburgh doesn't have an NBA team, Cleveland doesn't have an NHL team, and neither city has an MLS team, so the Steelers-Browns dynamic doesn't cross over into any other sports, the way Yankees-Red Sox becomes Jets-Patriots or Knicks-Celtics or Rangers-Bruins – or Mets-Phillies becomes Giants-Eagles or Rangers-Flyers. Being put in a separate Conference, let alone Division, and being mostly terrible since coming into existence, Ohio's NHL team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, doesn't generate much heat from Penguin fans. Even Penn State-Ohio State isn't that big a rivalry. Pitt-Penn State is another story, as is Pitt-West Virginia, "the Backyard Brawl."

The Penguins are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this season. Their mascot is named Iceburgh, and he looks nothing like either of the logos the team has worn over the years. Indeed, he looks more like something you'd find on The Muppet Show than at a hockey game. Like N.J. Devil, he wears Number 00.
Gonzo the Not-So-Great

Jeff Jimerson sings the National Anthem for the Penguins, and did so in the 1995 film Sudden Death.
The Penguins' goal song is "Kernkraft 4000" by Zombie Nation, replacing "Song 2" (a.k.a. "Whoo Hoo!") by Blur. Pens fans have a habit of remembering that they're also Steeler fans and singing, "Here we go, Steelers, here we go!" during their games. (It's been known to happen at Pirate and Pitt football games, too.) As far as I can tell, the Pens don't have a postgame victory song, but I don't think the current Pirates would mind if they adopt the 1979 Bucs' anthem, "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge.

After the Game. There are several sports-themed bars near the arena, many of which date to the glory days at the Civic Arena. Souper Bowl is at 5th & Washington, while Tailgaters is at Centre & Crawford. However, the amount of establishments around the arena is limited by the parking lot where the old arena used be on the north, and the Catholic (and therefore, at least officially, discouraging of drinking) Duquesne University campus to the south.

South of downtown, across the Monongahela River on the South Shore – or, they say in Pittsburghese, the Sou'side – is Station Square, an indoor and outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex. This is a popular gathering place, although as New Yorkers you'll be hopelessly outnumbered. When I first visited Pittsburgh in 2000 (I saw the Pirates hit 4 homers at Three Rivers but lose to the Cards thanks to a steroid-aided mammoth blast by Mark McGwire), there was a restaurant with a Pittsburgh Sports Hall of Fame at Station Square, but as far as I can tell it is no longer there.

North of downtown, where the Monongahela and the Allegheny come together to form the Ohio, where PNC Park and Heinz Field are, across from where Three Rivers Stadium used to be, is Jerome Bettis' Grille 36, named for the Steeler legend and his uniform number. It's at 393 North Shore Drive.

Carson City Saloon, at 1401 E. Carson Street, is said to be a Jets fans' bar. Bus 51. So is the William Penn Tavern, at 739 Bellefonte Street in the Shadyside section of town. Also in that neighborhood is the area's top Giant fans' bar, The Casbah, 229 S. Highland Avenue. Bus 71 for the WPT and the Casbah.

When I did this piece in 2014, I was told by a local that the Brillo Box was owned by a New Yorker, but, not having been to Pittsburgh since, I cannot confirm this. And one source I found to back it up calls it a "hipster" place. If "yinz" (Pittsburghese for "youse") want to take your chances, it's at 4104 Penn Avenue at Main Street. Bus 88.

If you visit Pittsburgh during the European soccer season, which we are now in, the city's leading soccer bar is Piper's Pub, at 1828 East Carson Street. No matter what club you support, you can almost certainly find its game on TV there. Bus 48. Unless you're a Liverpool fan, in which case you may prefer their outpost in the Steel City (Pittsburgh, not Sheffield): Cain's Saloon, at 3239 W. Liberty Avenue, 4 miles down the South Side. Red Line to Dormont Junction.

Sidelights. Pittsburgh has a long and storied sports history, if a real hit-and-miss one. As I said, the Civic Arena was across the street from the new arena, between Bedford Avenue, Fullerton Street, Centre Avenue and Washington Place. The official mailing address for "the Igloo" in its last few years was 66 Mario Lemieux Place.
Built in 1961 for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, it had a retractable roof before additional seating made such retraction impossible. It hosted the American Hockey League's Pittsburgh Hornets from then until 1967, and then the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins until 2010. It was officially known as the Mellon Arena from 1999 to 2010, when the naming rights expired.
The Pittsburgh Pipers, later renamed the Pittsburgh Condors, played there, and won the first ABA Championship in 1968, led by Brooklyn native Connie Hawkins. (He would be named to the ABA's All-Time Team.) The Beatles played there on September 14, 1964. Elvis Presley sang there on June 25 & 26, 1973 and December 31, 1976. It was demolished in 2011.

Pittsburgh hasn't had professional basketball since the Condors moved in 1973. If it did, its metro area would rank 22nd in population among NBA markets.

On May 12, 2014, the New York Times printed a story that shows NBA fandom by ZIP Code, according to Facebook likes. The PPG Paints Arena is 134 miles from Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Pittsburghers toss aside their NFL-bred hatred of Cleveland to support the Cavaliers, not even to root for the returned LeBron James: They seem to divide their fandom up among 4 "cool teams": The Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. The Philadelphia 76ers, only 309 miles away? Forget it.

* PNC Park. The Pirates opened this 38,362-seat ballpark, which opens to a spectacular view of downtown Pittsburgh, on the North Side in 2001. It took them until 2013 to reach the postseason there, but they've now done so in 3 straight seasons. 115 Federal Street at 6th Street. Metro to North Side Station. Or you can walk there from downtown. over the 6th Street Bridge, now renamed the Roberto Clemente Bridge and painted Pittsburgh Gold.

Exposition Park, home of the Pirates from 1891 to 1909, was nearly on the site of PNC Park. The first home of the Pirates, Recreation Park, was roughly on the site of Heinz Field.

This was also the site of the 1st football game played by an openly professional player. Yale University star William "Pudge" Heffelfinger was paid $500 (about $12,800 in today's money) to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, and scored the game's only points in a 4-0 Allegheny win. (Under the scoring system of the time, a touchdown was 4 points.)

There are historical markers in the complex for both Exposition Park (as one of the sites, along with the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston, of the 1st World Series) and Recreation Park (as the site of the 1st professional football game -- though the 1st all-professional game was in 1895 in nearby Latrobe).

* Heinz Field. This is a far better palace for football than the concrete oval Three Rivers Stadium was. It has a statue of Steeler founder-owner Art Rooney outside, and, on gameday, 68,400 Terrible Towel-waving black and gold maniacs inside.

The Steelers hosted the AFC Championship Game in the stadium's 1st season, 2001 (losing it to the New England Patriots, and again in 2004 (losing to the Pats again), 2008 (beating the Baltimore Ravens) and 2010 (beating the Jets).

A 2007 article named it the best stadium in the NFL, tied with Lambeau Field in Green Bay. It also hosts the University of Pittsburgh's football team. In 2014, it hosted a soccer game between defending English champions Manchester City and Italian giants AC Milan.

On New Year's Day 2011, it hosted the NHL Winter Classic, but the Penguins lost 3-1 to the Washington Capitals. Next year, on February 25, it will host an NHL Stadium Series game between the Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. 100 Art Rooney Avenue.

Three Rivers' address, famously, was 600 Stadium Circle, and that location, which has (like the Civic Arena's 66 Mario Lemieux Place) been stricken from postal records, was between Heinz Field and PNC Park. It was there that the Steelers won the 1971 and 1979 World Series (actually, they clinched in Baltimore both times), and the Steelers reached 5 Super Bowls, winning 4.

* Senator John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street at 12th Street, a couple of minutes’ walk from Union/Penn Station and Greyhound. It includes the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. (Senator Heinz, of the condiment-making family, was the first husband of Teresa Heinz Kerry, who nearly became First Lady in 2004.)

* Forbes Quadrangle, intersection of Forbes Avenue and Bouquet Street. This set of buildings, part of the University of Pittsburgh campus, was the site of Forbes Field, home of the Pirates from 1909 to 1970, the Steelers from 1933 to 1963, and the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues from 1929 to 1950.

The Steelers never won a title there, and indeed only hosted 1 Playoff game, which they lost. But the Pirates won 3 World Series while playing there, and the Grays won 11 Pennants and the 1943, 1944 and 1948 Negro World Series.

Included on the site is the last standing remnant of Forbes Field, part of the outfield wall, with ivy still growing on it. (Wrigley Field in Chicago wasn't the only park with ivy on its outfield wall.) Where the wall stops, you'll see a little brick path, and eventually you'll come to a plaque that shows where the ball hit by Mazeroski crossed over the fence to win the Series.

Home plate has been preserved, in Wesley W. Posvar Hall, named for the longtime UP Chancellor. An urban legend says that, if it was in its exact original location, it would now be in a ladies’ restroom; this isn't quite the case, but it's still at roughly the same spot.

If you've ever seen the picture of Mazeroski in mid-swing, you'll recognize the Carnegie Museum & Library in the background, and it is still there. If you've ever seen a picture of a Gothic-looking tower over the 3rd-base stands, that's the Cathedral of Learning, the centerpiece of UP (or "Pitt"), and it's still there as well. A portion of the wall, including the 406-foot marker that can be seen with the Mazeroski ball going over it, was moved to Three Rivers and now to PNC Park.

Pick up the Number 71 bus at 5th Avenue at Ross Street, and it will take you down 5th Avenue to Oakland Avenue. From there, it's a 2-minute walk to the Quadrangle and Posvar Hall.

* Petersen Events Center. The home arena for Pitt basketball, it was built on the site of Pitt Stadium, where they played their football games from 1925 to 1999, and where the Steelers played part-time starting in 1958 and full-time starting in 1964 until 1969. Part-time from 1970 to 1999, and full-time in 2000, Pitt shared Three Rivers with the Steelers, and they've shared Heinz Field since 2001.

Pitt Stadium was home to such legends as Dr. Jock Sutherland (a dentist and football coach), Marshall "Biggie" Goldberg, Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, and, if you want to stretch the meaning of "legend," Dan Marino. If you're a Giants fan, this is where they played the Steelers on September 20, 1964, and Giant quarterback Y.A. Tittle got clobbered by the Steelers' John Baker, resulting in that famous picture of Tittle kneeling, with blood streaming down his bald head, providing a symbolic end to the Giants' glory days of Frank Gifford, Sam Huff and quarterbacks Charlie Conerly and Tittle.

Terrace Street and Sutherland Drive. From 1951 to 2002, before moving into Petersen, Pitt played basketball at Fitzgerald Field House. At 4,122 seats, it was very intimidating for visitors, but much too small for a major college basketball team, and most of their big-draw games had to be played at the Civic Arena. Building the Petersen Center allowed them a 12,508-seat on-campus arena. The old and new arenas are across Sutherland Drive from each other, a 5-minute walk from Forbes Quadrangle.

* Site of Greenlee Field. William Augustus "Gus" Greenlee was one of Pittsburgh's premier black businessmen -- but was both a gangster and a philanthropist. In 1932, he built Greenlee Field for the Negro League team he owned, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, named for another business he owned, the Crawford Grill.

Seating 7,500, it was the Craws' home from 1932 to 1938, when, for reasons beyond his control, he had to make changes that led to fans staying away, and he had to sell the team after the season, lasting 2 more years in other cities before folding. But, led by Hall-of-Famers Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson and James "Cool Papa" Bell, they won Pennants in 1935 and 1936.

Like Ebbets Field, it was on a Bedford Avenue. The Bedford Dwellings housing project is now on the site. 2501 Bedford Avenue, off Chauncey Drive (not Chauncey Street, as in Brooklyn), a mile and a half east of downtown. Bus 83.

* Roberto Clemente Museum. A fan group tried to buy Honus Wagner's house in nearby Carnegie and turn it into a museum, but this is the only museum devoted to a single Pittsburgh athlete, who was viewed as a supporting player on the 1960 title and the driving force behind the one in 1971, prior to his tragic death in a plane crash off Puerto Rico, trying to bring relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year's Eve 1972.

Clemente wasn't the 1st Hispanic player in the major leagues (white Cuban Charles "Chick" Pedroes played 2 games for the Cubs in 1902), nor was he the 1st black Hispanic player (Minnie Minoso debuted with the Chicago White Sox in 1949). But he was the 1st to really take hold in the public imagination, to the point where later Hispanic stars wore Number 21 in his honor, and there is a movement to have the number retired throughout baseball as was done for Jackie Robinson (but it is not likely to succeed). 3339 Penn Avenue at 34th Street. Bus 87 to Herron Avenue.

Pittsburgh has never hosted an NCAA Final Four. Duquesne University reached the 2nd Final Four (not that it was called that back then) in 1940, and Pitt did so in 1941 -- no Western Pennsylvania school has done so since.

In fact, Pittsburgh has never been a big basketball city: The Pittsburgh Ironmen played in the NBA's 1st season, 1946-47, and only that season, and are best known now for having had Press Maravich, father of Pistol Pete, play for them; and the ABA's Pittsburgh Pipers, later the Pittsburgh Condors, won that league's first title in 1967-68, but that was it. The most successful Pittsburgh basketball team may well have been the Pittsburgh Pisces in The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.

The University of Pittsburgh is on the town's East Side. Penn State is 139 miles to the northeast in State College. West Virginia University, Pitt's other big rival, is 76 miles to the south in Morgantown. Greyhound provides service to State College, Megabus to Morgantown.

The U.S. Steel Tower, at 7th & Grant Avenues, is the tallest building in Pittsburgh, at 841 feet -- although there are 3 buildings in Philadelphia that surpass it for the title of tallest building in Pennsylvania. Built in 1970, it surpassed the 1932-built Gulf Tower, on the opposite corner from U.S. Steel.

There haven't been many TV shows set in Pittsburgh. Mr. Belvedere, starring Christopher Hewett as a butler to a family led by a sportswriter played by ballplayer-turned-broadcaster Bob Uecker, was set in nearby Beaver Falls, hometown of Jets legend Joe Namath, but it was filmed in Los Angeles. The most notable TV shows actually taped in Pittsburgh, at the PBS station WQED-Channel 13, were Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Fred Rogers was from Latrobe, and in spite of his show's success, he never moved the taping to New York or Hollywood. He notably had Steeler receiver Lynn Swann on his show, to show that even a big tough football player (or, at least, a graceful wide receiver) could love ballet (which explained how Swannie got such nice moves in the first place). A statue of Mr. Rogers, sponsored by TV Land, is near Heinz Field, as is one of Steeler founder-owner Art Rooney.

A lot of movies have been shot in Pittsburgh, due to its varied architecture. Many have had sports scenes. You may have seen the 1994 version of Angels in the Outfield, which involved the team then known as the California Angels. The original black-and-white version came out in 1951, and the downtrodden team they featured was the Pirates, and there's some nice shots of Forbes Field in it. Some nice shots of Janet Leigh, too. (Jamie Lee Curtis' mom -- no, unlike in some other films such as Psycho, Janet doesn't flash any skin in this one, but now you know why Tony Curtis married her, and where Jamie Lee inherited the goods.)

The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh was a very silly, very Seventies movie, with Julius "Dr. J" Erving playing for the good guys and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing for the opposition. Sudden Death had Jean-Claude Van Damme trying to stop an assassination attempt at the Stanley Cup Finals. Both featured the old Civic Arena. Van Damme also filmed Timecop in Pittsburgh.

While most of The Dark Knight Rises was filmed in New York (with a few CGI bridges added to the skyline to create the atmosphere of the fictional Gotham City), and its 2 predecessors were filmed in Chicago, the football game scene was filmed at Heinz Field, with the fictional Gotham Rogues wearing Steeler black & gold. (They even made up a fake website for the team, including the Rogue Rag, a takeoff on the Terrible Towel.) Real-life Steeler legend Hines Ward returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown as Bane's bomb collapsed the field behind him, and playing the opposition's kicker was real-life Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

The scene where Gary Oldman goes to Matthew Modine's house to prepare for the final assault may also have been filmed in Pittsburgh, although the row-house style resembles Philadelphia. Some of the movie was filmed in Newark, but that street doesn't look like any part of Newark I've ever seen. You'd have to get as far south as Trenton to see Philly-style rowhouses in New Jersey, but then they've got 'em all along the Delaware River, in places like Bordentown, Burlington and Camden. Maybe it's a Pennsylvania thing.

One of Tom Cruise's first big films was All the Right Moves, a high school football movie set in Pittsburgh. He returned to Pittsburgh to film Jack Reacher. A movie with more life in it, the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead, was filmed in Pittsburgh. Its sequel Dawn of the Dead was filmed at the Monroeville Mall in the eastern suburbs, and the concluding chapter Day of the Dead back in the city.

Gung Ho, with Michael Keaton, spoofed the decline of Pittsburgh industry. Flashdance, with Jennifer Beals, turned the declining Pittsburgh dream on its head. Boys On the Side seemed to wink at it. And Groundhog Day starts in Pittsburgh before moving east to Punxsutawney. However, those aren't sports movies. (Although, with Jennifer Beals, Drew Barrymore and Andie MacDowell in them, there may be some heavy breathing.)

But the greatest movie shot in Western Pennsylvania was the 1977 hockey classic Slap Shot. Nancy Dowd wrote it about her brother Ned's experience with the Johnstown Jets, who played at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. That arena, and minor-league arenas in New York State's Syracuse, Utica and Clinton, were used as filming locations, even though the film's Charlestown Chiefs were said to be in the Charlestown section of Boston. After the real Jets moved out, the replacement team was named the Johnstown Chiefs in honor of the crew led by player-coach Reggie Dunlop, played by Paul Newman.

The 4,000-seat arena, built in 1950, still stands, and is now home to a team called the Johnstown Tomahawks. 326 Napoleon Street in Johnstown, 67 miles east of Pittsburgh. It's a 15-minute walk from the Amtrak station, and the museum honoring the Johnstown Flood of 1889 is along the way.


Pittsburgh is a terrific city that loves its sports, and PPG Paints Arena is one of the best of the new hockey arenas. Hopefully, the Devils can muss up "Cindy" Crosby and his teammates. And win the game, too.

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