Hack Heinz Field: How to make the most out of your Steelers game

We’ve rounded up the best tips to make your trip to the North Shore worthy of a touchdown dance.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

Sitting along the banks of the Ohio River, filled with swirling yellow towels and more than 70,000 people chanting “Here We Go, Steelers,” there’s nothing quite like Heinz Field on game day.

But there’s one bad thing about a passionate fan base … having that many people pack onto the North Shore means difficulties finding parking, getting into the stadium and navigating to your seats. Have no fear — we’ve got you covered with a detailed playbook outlining all the tips and trick plays you’ll need to get the most out of your next game at Heinz Field.

P.S. We also made a guide to PPG Paints Arena.

Christopher Amrich / Flickr

Getting there and securing a prime tailgate spot

Unless the Steelers are playing New England, finding a cheap and good place to park is the basis of many fans’ worries on game day.

If you are coming from west or north of the city and looking for a quick escape after a Steelers victory, park around Community College of Allegheny County in one of the pop-up lots. Prices tend to be in the range of $20 to $30, which is cheaper than the lots next to the stadium. This prime location between 279 and 65 means you shouldn’t have to fight through much traffic making your way home.

If you’re making your way to the game from the south of the city, park or get dropped off in Station Square, and catch a Gateway Clipper across the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers for $6 each way. Shuttle service starts about three hours before the game and ends one-hour post-game. A typical wait time can be anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, so plan accordingly.

If you’re coming from the east, park in the Strip District. There are roughly 3,000 spots available for parking and tailgating. You can normally find parking there for as low as $5, making this one of the most economical choices if you’re up for a walk. When it’s time to make your way to the game, trek to the Steel Plaza T station and grab a train to Allegheny station. A highlight of this option is you’re in prime shopping territory if you need a last minute jersey or hat.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Getting in

In terms of getting in, be cognizant of where you’ll be sitting or standing for the game. If your seats are in the upper or lower levels in the north end zone, your best bet is entering through Gate C. This is also a nice entrance point if you’re hopping off the T.

If your seats are in the north end of the Upper Level East, enter through Gate B and walk up the ramp to your level. This is also a nice entrance point if you’re coming in from the Gold Lots or North Shore restaurants.

If your seats are located in the south end of the stadium, enter through either People’s Gate A East or A West under the main scoreboard, and hike up a rotunda.

The biggest tip for getting in quickly is to get there early. Gates open two hours before kickoff. Typically the best time to get in and still have time for some tailgating is about 45 minutes before kickoff.

Courtesy of Klutch Handbags

Bringing in your stuff

Heinz Field has an “all clear” policy, meaning you can only bring clear bags into the stadium. Your options there range from a clear Ziploc to an Instagramable monogrammed bag. Dick’s Sporting Goods makes a more affordable clear bag, emblazoned with a tiny logo from every single NFL team, which is a great option if you can stomach the idea of sporting a Patriots logo all night. You can also get an official Steelers clear messenger bag.

Fido / Flickr

Scoring good seats

There truly aren’t any bad seats in Heinz Field. But if you need some extra leg room or prefer to stand for your own superstitions, there are plenty of great vantage points.

If you want the best standing spot, you’re going to have to be a little competitive for this holy grail: The east ramp rotunda. That provides you with an excellent view of the field from the east corner of the south end zone and is typically where people go to show off their homemade signs. To get a spot here, you have to be willing to go in when the gates open. But it’ll be more that worth it.

Another great place to stand and watch the game, especially if you plan on enjoying a few beers, is right across the field, under the smaller scoreboard and on the Bud Light Deck. It accommodates around 150 people and offers a fantastic view, similar to the one from the rotundas.

Definitely remember your black-and-gold mohawk hat for warmth.

Definitely remember your black-and-gold mohawk hat for warmth.

daveynin / Flickr

Escaping the elements

If you’re going to a game late in the season, chances are you and the team are going to battle some bad weather.

When you’re sick of the cold and rain (or even snow), seek shelter in the FedEx Great Hall. The Great Hall is located under the east side of the stadium. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you look down and see the ground painted like a football field. The area is mostly enclosed, making it a nice option to stay dry and a little warmer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any views of the field, but it does have plenty of TVs to watch.

Another option, albeit slightly riskier, is to move up into the nosebleeds if you see empty seats. Look for no-shows in those seats, and make your move when you’re tired of getting drenched.

tfw you get Twitter to refresh at Heinz Field

tfw you can refresh Twitter during the game

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Connecting to Wi-Fi

When you’re turning to social media for clarification on controversial calls, checking statistics and rewatching highlights, you need more than the spotty LTE signal in Heinz Field. To fix that: When you’re ready to log in, search for the Wi-Fi network “Heinz Field Public,” accept its terms and conditions, enter your email address and you’re golden.

Here's where to find beer ... in case a beer can isn't a part of your outfit.

Here's where to find beer ... in case a beer can isn't a part of your outfit.

David P. Fulmer / Flickr

Finding food and drinks

If you aren’t already stuffed from tailgating (and let’s be honest, this is a real possibility), there are some decent options at the stadium.

If you didn’t get a burger at the tailgate: There are a bunch of burger joints, but Burgatory is No. 1.

If you’re hungry for glorious, greasy stadium food: The classic Goal Line Stand is your spot. There are more than a dozen outposts of this vendor at the stadium, so you won’t go hungry.

Or, if you want to eat like you’re not at a stadium: Check out the new concessions options for 2017 like fancy pierogies and an all-day brunch sandwich.

If you want booze: Sorry, but unless you’re in the club level, you’re out of luck. Heinz Field doesn’t sell liquor outside of the club sections. So Iron City it is.

Pro-tip: Wherever you want to eat, map it out from your seat before you waste time wandering the stadium and missing important plays.

If you’re trying to save a few bucks, you can even bring your own snacks. Per Heinz Field: “Food items such as small sandwiches, chips, pretzels, etc. are permitted in as long as they are in clear Ziploc plastic bags. No brown bags or plastic grocery store bags are permitted. You may also bring water, juice, pop, etc. as long as it is in a plastic bottle, 24 oz. or less and must have its original factory seal.” The more you know.

The Incline’s Food and Culture Editor Rossilynne Culgan contributed.