Standing-room-only ticket holders bring real passion to PNC Park
They pay hundreds for tickets that do not come with seats.
Most stand in the left field rotunda, living and dying with each pitch, every one of them loving the opportunity to simply be inside the building.
“There is no bandwagon up here,” said Jim Lamey, 26, of Beaver Falls, one of hundreds of standing-room-only fans in the rotunda who have added to sellout-crowds during PNC Park's first pennant race and playoff push. “The fans you see up here now are the fans you saw when the Pirates were only winning 60 games a year.”
On Sunday, they watched the Pirates win 5-3 over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. Many, including Lamey, vowed to return on Monday to watch the Pirates try to finish off the Cardinals in the best-of-five series and advance to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 1992.
“Amazing. Unbelievable. A dream. I have tears,” Lamey said after relief pitcher Jason Grilli got the final out of the game. “I don't know what to say. I honestly thought I'd never see this.”
PNC Park these days is raucous throughout the stands. But fans and Pirates employees say there is something special and uniquely passionate about the fans who stand game-long in the rotunda.
“There's more raw emotion up here,” said Caitlin Ankney, 24. “Even if we had tickets in the Lexus Club (right behind home plate), we'd rather be up here.”
Usher Bill Baumiller, 66, of Brookline works in the Lexus Club. From his perch close to the field, he said, he and others stand in awe at the passion displayed in the rotunda.
“They arrive early, they're loud and they have a really good time up there,” Baumiller said.
PNC Park seats 38,496, but standing-room-only tickets can push attendance numbers into the 40,000-plus range. Sunday's crowd drew a ballpark record of 40,489.
Standing-room-only ticket holders can go anywhere in the park “as long as they are not impeding the view of seated fans,” said Pirates spokesman Terry Rodger.
Most head for the rotunda.
Teachers Allyson Morici, 22, of New Castle and Katie Grandy, 22, of Sharpsville paid $139 each for standing-room-only tickets and hung a sign from the rails reading: “We've waited all our lives 4 Buctober. Go Buccos.”
“I grew up cheering for a team that's never won,” Grandy said. “I sat through too many losing seasons to miss this.”
One St. Louis fan was brave enough to enter the rotunda in a Cardinals jersey.
“They're treating me pretty good so far,” said Taylor Robertson, 29, a Missouri native who lives in the Washington area. “Of course, I wouldn't wear this if we were in Philadelphia.”
The rotunda is home to the Byrd Cage, a fan club for right fielder Marlon Byrd, because the rotunda resembles a bird cage. Lamey and others leapt up and down Sunday when Byrd scored two runs in the first inning to give the Pirates the lead.
Lamey said he will always prefer a rail in the rotunda over a seat in the park.
“This is real up here,” he said, pulling up his sleeves to reveal a collection of tattoos that include the Iron City label, the Pirates logo, a Terrible Towel and the words Yinzer Pride. “This the best place to watch a game at PNC, no doubt.”
Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.