With hours to spend before kickoff, you will want to plan when, where and how you party in the 'Burgh. We examine which lots allow grills, where you can park to save money and maybe meet friends closer to the stadium.
Without further adieu, let's find out which tailgate location is right for you!
Note: this list is a constant work in progress, as we continue to research and obtain accurate information for Steeler fans. Have a suggestion? Let us know.
Cost and Location
Surface Lots: Most lots designated by a color (Gold, Green, Blue, and Red lots) are pre-sold for an entire season, and like game tickets, have a waiting list for fans looking to purchase prime real estate for their tailgating needs! If you wish to purchase one of these passes, you will have to do so through the secondary market seller, such as Stubhub, eBay or Craigslist. (Buyer beware: there are many fake listings on Craigslist. Always check before you pay someone through an eBay or Stubhub "invoice" and discontinue speaking to those that claim they are displaced out of the country.)
Other lots are available on a "first come, first serve" basis, but in some cases will require a longer walk to and from the stadium. Prices range anywhere from $50 to $5 depending on the location, game and other factors. If you don't mind a 10 or 15 minute jaunt to the stadium, several businesses along either side of Route 65 (near Rivers Casino) provide the best value for game day festivities.
Parking Garages: While you won't be able to grill or do much of anything (outside of maybe sneaking a drink) inside the various parking decks in downtown Pittsburgh, parking garages offer a low cost option to park your vehicle and get to the game.
With the new "T" light rail system on the North Shore, patrons can now park at any of the Parking Authority garages on game day for only $5. We would recommend parking at any of the Golden Triangle parking garages and then catch a ride on the train, which is free of charge.
On the North Shore, the Red 5 garage and Rivers Casino are viable options. The Red 5 garage (like the Red lots) are pre-sold passes. There may be limited access available on a "first come, first serve" basis. Rivers Casino offers both pre-sold and "first come" parking. The casino also offers valet service during games, though traffic going in and out of the deck can be hectic. Prices vary, but start around $40 for casino parking.
Water Shuttles: Pittsburgh offers a number of boating options to get you to and from Heinz Field. Generally, you will need to pay for parking in addition to each person's one-way ticket to travel on the boats. While a bit more costly than the lower priced garage parking options, a water taxi will give visitors to the Steel City a great view of the city skyline while sailing down Pittsburgh's three rivers.
The Steelers website offers detailed maps and directions for games. We recommend visiting their Heinz Field Parking Guide for more information on the above lots.
Stage AE: Adjacent to Heinz Field, if you make your way to a lot and need somewhere to tailgate, Stage AE Stage's indoor entertainment complex has room for up to 2,400 people. The facility regularly hosts live pre-and-post-game radio shows, plus offers food, drinks and other promotions to their patrons throughout the season.
General Tailgating Guidelines
Hours: As a general rule, Heinz Field parking lots open to fans 5 hours before kickoff. While rare, special circumstances may dictate different times, such as the Pirates playing at home, where baseball and football fans must share the same lots. (In the event of a Pirates game, be sure to check the Steelers gameday activities information on their official website, for more information on tailgate lot hours.)
Alcohol: provided drinkers are of legal age, alcohol consumption is allowed. However, Pennyslvania has several draconian liquor laws. Local fans should make sure they purchase their drinks prior to Sunday. If you are traveling in from out of state, you will want to plan ahead and bring a cooler with your favorite drinks.
If you must purchase alcohol in Pennsylvania, or on game day, these tips may help you.
As a general rule, you can only purchase beer and liquor at a distributor or state store, many of which are closed on Sundays. (If you find one that is open, they have strange hours, such as Noon-5pm, which is no good for a 1pm kickoff.)
In addition, distributors sell beer by the case; smaller quantities are available from bars, bottle shops and select grocery stores (which have bottle shops attached to their café.) Generally, prices are more expensive at these stores. In addition, customers are limited to purchasing the equivalent of 2 six-packs at one time.
Grilling and Open Flames: Grilling is generally permitted in most surface lots around the stadium. The Carnegie Science Museum lots, with the exception of the smaller Green 33 lot (directly in front of Rivers Casino) as well as parking garages, do not permit grilling. Open fires, such as a bon fire, are strictly prohibited in all lots.
Away Fans: Aside from the occasional heckling, Steeler fans are usually a fun group that do not look to start trouble with opposing team fans. Keeping this in mind, if you are making a road trip to support your team, do not be the fan that intentionally looks for trouble. Walking through the heart of the tailgate lots talking trash is not a good idea and will draw you some unwanted attention. Otherwise, you can be a fan and cheer for your team in Heinz Field with little resistance; other than some dirty looks from fans who may not approve of the score!
In conclusion, there is nothing like experiencing a Steelers game in person. If you are already investing money in a game ticket, do yourself a favor and compliment your experience by choosing to spend several hours enjoying all that Pittsburgh has to offer.