I am well aware of the double entendres at play here, and I regret nothing.
This past weekend, I joined my wife and in-laws on an adventure to the northeast to catch the Chiefs Vs Steelers second preseason game. Yes, watching that terrible game itself was as enjoyable as beating up a brick wall with my face, but that’s not what we are here to talk about today.
I embarked on a mission to evaluate the stadium, atmosphere, and the Steelers fans in general. I was more surprised than P. Diddy finding a one-dollar bill at what I came away with …
The Stadium: Heinz Field
First off, Heinz Field is actually … pretty damn cool. You have no idea how much it pains me to say positive things about them, but the Steelers have one hell of a nice venue on their hands. One of the best parts? You can take a boat to the stadium.
On this boat is alcohol and food, too, which is nice, but the fact that you can park in a free parking lot on one side of the river and hop on a boat for like $7.00 and ride it to the entrance of the stadium — that’s a novelty that I’m glad we were able to experience.
We had seats in the upper deck of the stadium, and I have to say the sight lines were awesome. Seating is a bit steeper than that at Arrowhead, so even if someone were to stand up in front of you (nobody does, though, apparently, but we’ll get into that) it would not obstruct your view.
Our section also provided a beautiful scene of the Pittsburgh skyline from the stadium:
All in all, Heinz Field is a good venue. The stadium was clean, access was easy, and it makes me want to give them an overall passing grade as it pertains to the quality of the place.
Food and drinks are roughly the same prices as Arrowhead, but I have a feeling that’s par for the course in most arenas. They do, however, have a much more diverse selection of beer and alcohol than I typically find inside Arrowhead, so that helped mask the fact that they kept attempting to get me to try their equivalent of “barbecue” — which I refused to do, like any self-respecting red-blooded Kansas City native …
Here’s a couple more gratuitous shots of the field:
We Arrowheadians (Arrowheadites? Arrowheadoans?!) are used to our brand of fandom in the stands. We are loud, we are boisterous, we are full of piss, vinegar, and team spirit. We get loud even when there’s no real need for it, and if you spend most of your stadium experience with your butt in the seat, you’re probably not from around these parts.
That’s definitely not how Pittsburgh rolls.
In Heinz-sight, this was a preseason game, but when I saw how many people were in attendance I truly expected to see at least a glimmer of what the place might be like during an actual game.
I’m telling you, that stadium was quiet. As in, I actually had to hold myself back from passing gas because it very well may have reverberated around the stadium, and that’s definitely not how I want Mahomes to become acquainted with me.
There was no real noise, no shouting, no standing and cheering, no slapping the backs of the seats in front you. Sure, after a big (Pittsburgh) play the crowd would cheer a bit, but I would say that Chiefs fans are louder for KC Wolf walking out of the tunnel than Steelers fans were for a 3rd down conversion.
Again, it was preseason, so take it for what it’s worth — but I never had to raise my voice. Not once. Period.
Now the part I was so looking forward to writing. I have Steelers fans in my family, as well as some ‘friends’ who root for them as well. None of them are very nice to opposing teams’ fans come game day. They’re typically snooty, stuck-up, arrogant, entitled little bastions of hate …
So you can imagine my surprise when I only met one bad apple the whole trip.
Seriously, I had worked up a laundry list of jokes to make about these petulant fools — had they indeed acted like ones — and my biggest regret is not being able to use them (I’m sure a time will come. But alas, that time is not today).
Here is my exchange with the only rotten Steelers fan I met:
Keep in mind, this old biddy was working behind the bar at the local grocery store and started this feud by refusing to serve us because we were in Chiefs attire. A nicer Steelers fan/employee then began to help, when she made the comment above that sparked my reply.
Twitter only allows for so many characters, but about 5 minutes later she threw out her final retort: “There are Steelers shirts down aisle ‘X’ if you want to wear something that actually looks good.”
“No thank you,” I said, “there’s very little advice I take from people slinging beer at 9 a.m. in a grocery store.”
The Good Ones
For the most part the folks in the stadium were welcoming. Well, maybe not welcoming, per se — after all, we were opposing fans. There were the customary side-glances, hard-eyes and whispered jokes. That’s just to be expected. No harm no foul.
My wife and I even met a few very nice couples, the ones below even buying us beer!
Almost everybody asked us about our trip, what Kansas City was like, how we had been enjoying the city so far, etc. Overall it was actually a very pleasant experience.
I only have one final story to wrap this up:
Standing in line at concessions, there was a mother with her (probably) 10-ish year old son, and he and I began to playfully banter about our respective teams. The kid was pretty knowledgeable about both the Steelers and Chiefs, so I had a modicum of respect for the little guy.
The mother was very nice and we were all laughing at each others jokes as the boy and I went round for round, eventually parting ways as they made their purchase and took off to their seats.
Cut to about 17 beers later and the Carlos Hyde fumble — and there this little sh*t is, two rows in front of me and a few seats to the left. He stands up, turns around, and gives me the ‘Suck It’ gesture with his hands. In what was absolutely NOT my proudest moment as an adult, I responded as I pointed at him:
“You better watch that, son, or you’ll have a new step-daddy by next weekend!”
You can take the Dave out of Kansas City, but you can’t … uh, take the Dave out of the Dave. Or something.
(Insert wittier ending than that here).