Pittsburgh Pirates Go Touchless — and Contactless — for 2021 Season

Buccos are ready to welcome fans back to PNC Park — but with new COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Here’s what you need to know.


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You can’t touch this. 

Yes, it’s the name of an old MC Hammer earworm, but it also could apply to the new safety protocols in place at PNC Park as the Pittsburgh Pirates get ready to welcome fans back to the ballpark for the team’s home opener on Thursday. 

Team officials this week outlined the new COVID-19 safety guidelines, which include a mostly touchless, and cashless, experience. 

For example, fans are asked to use the MLB ballpark app to buy tickets and get access to parking. They also are encouraged to add the mobile tickets to their Apple Wallet to ease entry to the park. 

For those who don’t have a smartphone, don’t worry, there still will be an option for fans to buy printed tickets. 

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“We want this to be a positive experience and a time for fans who want to reconnect with family and friends,” team President Travis Williams said during the press conference, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It will be a touchless environment from the minute you walk into the ballpark. Digital ticketing is really important.” 

Fans will also have to root, root, root for the home team from socially distant seating. PNC Park is operating at 25% seating capacity, meaning about 8,000 to 9,000 fans will be allowed into the ballpark. 

Attendees are asked not to move from their ticketed seat to another empty seat. Also, tickets will be sold in pods of two or four — no single tickets are available.

The touchless experience continues at the concession stands and team stores. To limit points of contact, PNC is going cashless. Credit and debit cards as well as Apple/Google Pay will be accepted. A pair of reverse ATMs also will be on the premises — located at sections 119 and 319 — to convert cash to a prepaid Mastercard. 

Besides separation between concession lines, social distance markings on the floor and line capacities in place for concession stands, all food and condiments sold at the park will be prepackaged, single servings.

And, of course, the umpire won’t be the only one wearing a mask. 

Unless you are actively eating or drinking in your ticketed seats, all fans ages 2 and older are required to wear a mask at all times while at PNC Park. Gaiters, bandanas and face coverings with an exhalation valve or vent are not permitted.  

Pirate pre-parties will also have to wait this year. No tailgating is allowed in the parking lots or garages. 

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Also new for 2021 is a sensory room and a nursing pod station. Located on the suite level near the left-field rotunda, the sensory room will provide a quiet, safe space with subdued lighting. The nursing pod on the main concourse has benches, power outlets and doors that can be locked for privacy. 

“Even in a limited capacity environment, at 25 percent socially distanced, we are striving to make sure that the atmosphere is electric and that the experience is enjoyable and we really provide that family-friendly, fun, exciting environment for people,” Williams says in a video message on the Pirates website. 

“We can’t wait to have you back at the ballpark.” 

The Pirates home opener kicks off at 1:35 p.m. Thursday against the Chicago Cubs. Start times from evening games in April in May will be 6:35 p.m. For more information on what to expect when attending a game at PNC Park in 2021, visit here.  

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