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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Small-Market Pirates Join MLB Development Push With Planned Plaza

  • Small-market MLB team makes move to improve ballpark area.
  • Project to feature range of uses, residential component.
Barker Nestor and Chase Merritt

One of MLB’s allegedly stingiest owners is making a big move to improve the area surrounding his team’s ballpark.

Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting is advancing on a deal with HiLife Hospitality to build a 30,000-square-foot plaza across the street from PNC Park, a venue on the city’s North Shore perennially ranked as one of the league’s most picturesque ballparks.

The plaza is slated to include a pair of stages, a large LED screen, and a covered beer garden and food stand, along with an adjacent building with ground-floor restaurants, an experiential entertainment venue, and upper-floor residential units.

The HiLife partnership was initially announced early this year, and recent submissions to the Pittsburgh Stadium Authority and the city’s planning commission point toward a projected opening in early 2025.

Cost estimates and funding sources have yet to be finalized. This project, however, adds to a separate, $11 million worth of improvements inside PNC Park for 2023 and a new videoboard.

The plaza effort mirrors a fast-growing wave of development projects adjacent to MLB ballparks, one inspired in part by the example of the Atlanta Braves, as well as the Chicago Cubs’ programming at Gallagher Way outside Wrigley Field. Teams more recently following the development push include the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles.

The Pittsburgh plans arrive as the Pirates this year have MLB’s third-smallest payroll at $76.3 million, and Nutting has faced years of criticism as the team has no playoff appearances since 2015 and hasn’t joined a rising MLB trend of small-market success.

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