06/13/06 9:30 AM ET
Pittsburgh to get makeover fit for a Star
City, not just PNC Park, to have new look for Midsummer Classic
By David Briggs / MLB.com
More than 1,000 All-Star banners will line Pittsburgh's streets, enormous graphic decorations will adorn a number of downtown buildings and a red carpet cavalcade of baseball's luminaries will parade through the Steel City en route to the main event.
And these are but a few of the transformations Pittsburgh and PNC Park will undergo in anticipation of the city's fifth All-Star Game, to be played July 11.
Start with the park and the field itself. An intricate field design -- a staple of All-Star Games -- will be the big thing fans will notice, said head groundskeeper Steve Peeler. The infield grass will likely be mowed into a giant star pattern, as will each of the three outfield positions. And on the dirt, multicolored soil will be used to form stars at the four infield positions.
In the stands, there will be several decorations (red, white and blue bunting, for one) adorning the stadium and added sponsor signage, but nothing over the top, Pirates spokesman Brian Warecki said.
That can't be said for the game's media presence. Four sections of the park's right-field upper deck will be closed off to serve as an auxiliary press box for close to 1,000 members of the press.
Among the legions of cameras from the throngs of broadcast crews (including 15 foreign stations) that will inhabit PNC Park include FOX's diamond cams, pencil-sized cameras that will be embedded in front of the pitcher's mound and home plate. And, of course, there will be the omnipresent blimp providing overhead shots of a bejeweled city and its park.
Beneath this pageant, in the stadium's bowels, there will be surprisingly little shift from the norm -- even in the two clubhouses.
"Well, the personnel will change," quipped Pirates equipment manager Roger Wilson.
Indeed, the home club's gear will be moved into storage and the weight rooms in the National League's clubhouse will be converted into an autograph area where the players will ink pre-selected items. But there will be no lavish entertainment hauled in to welcome the stars.
"The players are the easy part," Wilson said. "It's the one time when they get to sit amongst the other stars and talk. It's a relaxed time for them ... but it's a big deal to us."
And to the city.
All-Star-themed banners will grace the fronts of 15 downtown hotels, including a massive 35-by-65-foot graphic depiction of PNC Park and the city's skyline to be hung in the archway of Pittsburgh's Renaissance Hotel.
Large-scale decorations will also appear at the airport, on several other city buildings, the Point State Park Bridge, on one of the inclines ... essentially everywhere. And no street post will seemingly be immune from adornment.
Still, the real exterior spectacle will be the Roberto Clemente Bridge. Arching banners will drape overhead, All-Star visuals will line its sidewalks and pennants will fly from its side, all to be vibrantly illuminated by newly installed lighting.
And most notably, the bridge will unfurl a red carpet, literally, for the stars on the afternoon before the game. The 64 All-Star players will be paraded in convertibles from the Byham Theater, across the Clemente Bridge and into the stadium.
And this is one red carpet show that fans can see. The players, each in individual cars, will take time to converse with the masses of fans expected to line the streets.
A celebration of stars with the stars and a fitting segue into the last act of the celebration.
David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.