I had the opportunity to do a comparison over the weekend: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh vs. the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

For my birthday weekend, I flew to Pittsburgh to visit Shannon, and she had a great weekend planned for me: lots of food, a great concert and tickets to see the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the New York Jets!!

Pittsburgh Heinz Field Photo by John Falcon
4th-Row Seats at Heinz Field Photo by John Falcon

I love Pittsburgh because there is so much to see and do. There's lots of history, entertainment, food, music, sports, bridges, rivers, trees, mountains, tunnels, a submarine, and Batman. There are 4 seasons, leaves that change color, snow that stays on the ground and days that will make you sweat. George Washington made an imperative river crossing there, and, by gosh, it's Mr. Roger's neighborhood!

Now, with my love for Pittsburgh known, I will let you know this: I like the Superdome better. There. I said it.  I know that the Yinzers will not be happy with my preference, but I didn't enjoy the open-air experience of Heinz Field as much as I enjoy the (Super) domed experience.

Pittsburgh Heinz Field Photo by John Falcon
Pittsburgh Skyline Behind Heinz Field Photo by John Falcon

The good things about Heinz Field:

  • YOU CAN SEE THE SKY! (I realize that this is the traditional view when you look up in a football stadium. Domed arenas came later).
  • It's relatively new (2001)
  • Facilities were easily accessed (large-ish restrooms and lots of concessions were just inside the tunnels).
  • Two huge bottles of red condiment sauce (I put "red condiment sauce" because I can never decide between typing "catsup" and "ketchup") "pour" the red zone onto the scoreboard when the Steelers make it past the 10 yard line.
  • When the stadium is able to block the breeze, and the sun is out, a 50-degree day can feel like an 80-degree day (kind of).
  • Public transportation is readily available right outside of the stadium.
  • It is a beautiful facility.
  • Designers included lots (and lots) of steel, in a nod to the industrial history of Pittsburgh.
  • There were cup holders on the back of the seats in front of you (it must be horrible to sit on the front row, with no drink holders, right?)
  • The fans were very nice to us.
  • The stadium is very photogenic, with views of the rivers, bridges, Point Park, Mount Washington, and the skyline of Pittsburgh all around.
  • There is ample opportunity to make new friends at the various tailgating/parking areas surrounding the stadium.
  • Before and/or after the game, there are several places to eat/drink just a block up the river, near PNC Park.

The things I didn't like about Heinz Field:

  • When the stadium is unable to block the breeze, and the sun goes behind the clouds (or behind the stadium), icicles form on various parts of my body. (Essential parts of my body.)
  • The excitement wasn't there (in my opinion) like it is in the Superdome. Granted, I didn't have a dog in the fight (wait: Vick no longer plays for them, right?), but it seems that the energy in the Superdome is higher. Maybe because the sound dynamic is different in a domed arena as compared to an open-air stadium, but the excitement just didn't seem to be as high.
  • The audio from the field announcer and from the officials was spotty (granted, the wind might have had something to do with that).

Oh, wait: my list of things I like about Heinz Field far outweigh the list of things I don't like about Heinz Field.  Hmm. Go figure.

Pittsburgh Heinz Field Photo by John Falcon
Shannon snuck in her Fleur de Lis necklace!
Photo by John Falcon

All-in-all, Heinz Field is a great place to catch a game. I know that I am probably prejudiced towards the Superdome because it's "home", and I realize that many Yinzers can add a laundry list of great things about Heinz Field to my list, but, after all, this is an opinion piece, and you know what they say about opinions!

Now, if the Saints would have as much jewelry as the Steelers, I'd be able to boast for real!


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