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Road Games Travel Tips: Stealing away to Pittsburgh

Week 2, Sept. 15: Seattle at Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field 10 a.m. Pacific

SPONSORED – I entered Pittsburgh through the front door.

It’s the only way to enter the city. Well, not literally. It’s possible to approach from the North via I-279 or to enter from the east.

But if you’re looking for one of the most beautiful entrances to any city in this country, then there’s only one way to go, and it’s also the most convenient, taking I-376 West from the airport and emerging from the Fort Pitt Tunnel to see the downtown skyline fold in front of you.

It’s really quite spectacular, and I still remember driving through that tunnel for the first time at 23 years of age less than a year removed from college. That view was the first sign that while the blue-collar image I had of Pittsburgh wasn’t inaccurate per se, but it certainly didn’t tell you the whole story about the city.

I was born in the ‘70s back when Pittsburgh’s football team was the gold standard of the sport, anchored firmly in the Rust Belt with a downright industrial nickname. It’s a city that is bracketed by rivers, three of them, and overlooked by hills, which provides some absolutely incredible views.
Pittsburgh was the site of my first NFL assignment. I was working for ESPN.com in my first full-time job out of college and I was assigned to cover the AFC Championship Game between Denver and Pittsburgh.

That was a cold January weekend, though, and it did not come close to preparing me for just how pleasant, just how nice a setting Pittsburgh is in September.
Not only that, but this year, when Seattle makes its first trip to Pittsburgh in eight years, the baseball team will get to town two days after the football game, which would make for a pretty enticing double play.

Just make sure you’re prepared to be asked if you want fries in your sandwich?

Not with. In.

It’s a twist that has become a local staple as Primanti Brothers tops all its sandwiches with fries, cole slaw and tomatoes. Onions are available upon request. My favorite: When pigs fly. That’s a turkey sandwich with ham, bacon and a fried egg. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the fries.

Arrival: Alaska Air has a direct flight from Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) to the Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is about 15 miles west of downtown Pittsburgh. Bus service is available through the Port Authority, the Airport Flyer boarding outside of Baggage Claim 6 and providing service to downtown Pittsburgh.

Stadium: Heinz Field opened in 2001 as Pittsburgh went from having one of the more generic multi-use parks in Three Rivers Stadium to having a pair of the most picturesque parks. The Pirates’ PNC Park opened the same year as Heinz Field, both stadiums located at the confluence where the Alleghany River and Monangahela River come together to form the Ohio River.

Last time here: Seattle was shut-out 24-0 on Sept. 18, 2011, its most recent game in Pittsburgh. In fact, Seattle hasn’t scored a point in Pittsburgh since 1999. Now, that’s not quite as bad as it sounds. Seattle has only played two games in Pittsburgh in the previous 19 seasons. Pittsburgh shut-out Seattle 21-0 in 2007.

Dining: Primanti Brothers gives you a variety of options. The original location at 46 18th Street has been opened since 1933. There’s also two locations in the stadium itself in the lower East end (Sections 109 and 110) and the lower West end (132 and 133). Union Standard (524 William Penn Place) is a great downtown restaurant that features regional cuisine.