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04/03/12 6:30 PM ET

Pirates adding new touches to PNC Park

Budweiser Bowtie Bar to be focal point of right-field corner

The Pirates aren't shy about referring to PNC Park as the "best ballpark in America," and each year they strive to improve the fan experience at the 11-year-old facility. On Tuesday afternoon, team officials put the enhancements that have been made since the end of the 2011 campaign on display for members of the media.

The most significant change that fans attending Thursday's 1:35 p.m. ET regular-season opener against the Phillies will notice is the addition of the Budweiser Bowtie Bar, which will become the new focal point of the right-field corner. The area features an open floor plan that overlooks the playing field on one side and the Allegheny River and the downtown Pittsburgh skyline on the other, with an inviting U-shaped bar in the middle.

All ticket holders will have access to the Budweiser Bowtie Bar, where they can enjoy draft and craft beers -- including Anheuser-Busch products -- plus mixed drinks, frozen drinks and wine. There will also be plenty of food available, including cheesesteak sandwiches, jumbo hot dogs and ballpark favorites such as nachos, peanuts and pretzels.

"The Budwesier Bowtie Bar is another way we're trying to reinvigorate PNC Park and keep it the best ballpark in America," Pirates executive vice president & chief marketing officer Lou DePaoli said. "It reflects the first time we've ever expanded the footprint of the ballpark, and we've got some plans for next year that we're already looking at which I think will be even grander."

As part of the media tour, the Pirates and their concessions partners -- Levy Restaurants and ARAMARK -- showed off a bevy of new menu items that will be available at PNC Park this season.

Among the best examples were:

• A Thai Chile Burger, featuring a beef and pork mixed patty brushed with garlic sauce on a sweet Hawaiian roll and topped with Asian slaw.

• Meatball Mania, which is six meatballs on a foot-long skewer -- two traditional beef meatballs with marinara sauce, two chicken meatballs with green chile verde and two Thai pork meatballs in a ginger-soy barbecue sauce.

• Candy Shop Popcorn, which is ballpark popcorn drizzled in chocolate sauce and mixed with sweet favorites such as dark chocolate morsels, mini-Reese's peanut butter cups and mini-malted milk balls.

• Just4U, a new concession stand designed for health conscious guests and those with dietary restrictions. Options will include gluten-free hot dogs and nachos, a tomato and mozzarella salad, a grilled veggie salad and a fresh fruit cup.

• Nakama, a new concession stand that will serve items from the Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, a popular restaurant on Pittsburgh's South Side.

"We definitely want to keep all the staple items -- such as hot dogs, burgers and nachos -- but we also want to venture out and try some new things each year," said Adam Holt, the executive chef for Levy Restaurants at PNC Park. "We like to give our fans a lot of different options."

"A lot of folks ask us what we do all winter. Now you can see," said Steve Musciano, the general manager for ARAMARK at PNC Park.

Then pointing to another new item called Crabfries -- crinkle-cut fries with a secret blend of spices served with a white cheese sauce -- Musciano added: "I cannot be responsible for you becoming addicted to these fries."

Jim Lachimia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.