The Pittsburgh Steelers are among the most recognizable teams in the entire NFL. Their black and gold uniforms have been worn by some of the all-time greats in the league, from Terry Bradshaw to Franco Harris to Jerome Bettis. Add in the antics of Steely McBeam on the sideline, and you can see why Pittsburgh is a destination that RVers who are NFL fans may want to visit at some point in their lives.
What separates the Steelers from many of their NFL rivals is the tradition of winning Super Bowls, including their dominant run of four titles in six years in the 1970s. The family feel around the team and the fan base that has perpetuated through generations of ownership by the Rooney family has not gone unnoticed.
The Steelers, a franchise that has been in existence since way back in 1933, have played their home games at Heinz Field since the stadium was built at the cost of $281 million in 2001. The stadium has since seen renovations and expansions, and it is often seen as one of the better stadiums in the NFL to watch a football game.
The day starts early in Pittsburgh when the Steelers are playing, with fans flocking to the parking lots around the arena looking to tailgate before kickoff. Food and games are the order of the day here, with tailgate staples like ringtoss and cornhole being set up, along with footballs flying through the air in every direction.
Parking lots open five hours before kickoff, so be prepared and come hungry. RV tailgaters have options near the stadium for external parking and may want to consider pre-organized game day events.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, like many NFL teams, have little trouble selling out Heinz Field for their eight regular-season home games. The Steelers are often the hottest ticket in town, and the average ticket price for games is over $100 to watch the black and gold play. Heinz Field is a stadium that takes full advantage of premium seating options, too, with luxury boxes providing the ultimate game day experience for fans. Expect tickets to be hard to come by for games against division rivals such as the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
Driving an RV to a Steelers game means slowing down and taking time in traffic as you approach the stadium. Try to get there early as the roads near the stadium jam up on game day. Heinz Field rests on the north shore of the Ohio River, so access is limited by the geography of the area. Expect to cross one or more bridges near the river and note that the single riverway splits into two rivers just east of the stadium. Coming in on I-279 and finding a spot to part four to six blocks from the stadium might be more realistic than getting any closer.
When you get down to the Heinz Field area, it is worth noting that the lots closest to the stadium don't allow RV parking. The best spots for an RV to park are in the lots four to six blocks from the field, where there are a number of parking areas run by outside companies that welcome RVs on game day. If your lot doesn't allow tailgating, then find your way to Stage AE, where the team hosts a party with food, games, and live music. Also, look for the Red and Gold parking lots for tailgating action.
There are Park-and-Ride stations dotted around the edges of the city that will ride you down to the North Shore and allow you to walk to the stadium across the Clemente Bridge. Another option is the Free Light Rail Transit service that runs most of the day on Sundays. A water shuttle is also available from some locations near Heinz Field. If you park your RV off-site with some distance to the stadium, then the simplest way to arrive may be via a taxi or ride-share service.
There are no onsite lots in which to park your RV overnight as the venue in Downtown Pittsburgh doesn't allow it. Parking lots open five hours before most games, with the official lots of the Steelers not allowing RVs inside. Private parking lots that are available for the day don't allow overnight parking and are run on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are many RV Parks in the surrounding area in which to spend the night in your camper. Prices will vary with distance, but parks within 20 to 40 minutes of Heinz Field welcome rigs of all sizes. These facilities include RV Parks with water/electric hookups and dump stations. Staying a little further away will open up more of the natural beauty of the area, with lakes and rivers, swimming pools, and playgrounds all vying for your time. Washington / Pittsburgh SW KOA sits just under an hour's drive away from the stadium and may already be along your route to Pittsburgh from the south.
The best way to get from the parking lots to the stadium is usually to walk. If you are within a mile or so of the stadium, then a jaunt through the North Shore area may have your encountering other fans along the way. Leave some extra time free to meet some fellow fans and see how the Steelers Nation does tailgating right.
Heinz Field is an open-air facility, which means that clothing choices will be dependent on the weather. In the winter, Pittsburgh can be very, very cold, so make sure that your clothing choices account for the temperature. Layering up is the way to go, and be sure to have sturdy footwear in case you encounter snow. Also, don't wear anything orange and brown, orange and black, or black and purple. Black and gold is the only way to go here at Steelers Stadium.
It will be time to load up the RV with Steelers gear when going to Heinz Field to watch a game. Bring out the table cloths and the plates and flat wear for the tailgating portion of the day. Maybe invest in some Steelers cornhole boards to be the life and soul of the party.
All this stuff is easily found in and around Pittsburgh with the local retailers. If you are a planner and want to load up the RV with an extra assortment of merchandise, maybe some chairs and a Steelers sun visor, then the best bet is to go online where the options are limitless.
Water intake is always key when attending an event in the elements. Tailgating does sometimes involve a drink or two of something stronger, but activities are conducted in a family-friendly environment. An RVer should always have the necessities for pain, cuts, and scrapes, and keep them handy and up to date.
Some lots allow outdoor grilling but most do not allow fire pits or bonfires, and grills are not allowed in the garages at all. Fans can enjoy the option of cooking themselves in some of the private lots that allow RVs to park. Cooking outdoors opens up many tailgating options, with the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs, along with a little barbecue, permeating the air on game days. On the flip side, you may wish to let the catered tailgating events do the cooking for you closer to the stadium.
The downtown location of Heinz Field on the North Shore means you are only a couple of miles away from Pittsburgh's best food. This is a proud city with a unique dining culture. Pierogies are a go-to meal, with the Polish dumplings being a Pittsburgh staple. Pittsburgh is also a French fry-friendly state, with the potato goodness being loaded onto everything from sandwiches to salads.
Gone are the days where the only food to eat after getting inside a stadium was nachos or peanuts. Heinz Field is a modern stadium with an eclectic selection of food available. That means that everything from gyros to pierogies to a wine bar can be found in different sections of the stadium. There is no reason to ever be hungry at a Steelers game given the sheer variety of food on offer as you watch the team play. It should probably go without saying that asking for any ketchup other than Heinz may garner some questioning looks.
You may want to leave the tailgating activities a bit early if you wish to get to Heinz Field for kickoff. As with all NFL stadiums, you and your property will be subjected to a security screening at whatever gate you enter. Make sure anything you take into the stadium is in a clear bag or a small purse or handbag as security will ask you to return backpacks or fanny packs to your RV before you are allowed inside.
Pittsburgh is one of those NFL cities where RVers will be at an advantage on game day when it comes to dealing with the weather. Pennsylvania weather is not always consistent, so check those seven and three-day forecasts during game week to have some idea of what mother nature will be throwing the Steelers way. In general, the beginning of the season may bring temperatures in the 80s. Come playoff time, however, you might be looking at cold weather, and potentially, plenty of snow.
The Steelers do a good job of keeping Heinz Field stocked for medical issues that could arise during a game. For basic needs (pain medicine, sunscreen, and antacids, for example), guests can visit any of the Pittsburgh Sideline Stores or Club Level novelty stands if an item is forgotten. There will also be numerous medical staff present for bigger problems, and staff members will gladly point the way to first aid stations. The nearest hospital is just over a mile away from the stadium for emergency situations.