How In The Hell Are The Pittsburgh Pirates Growing Attendance?

Clint Hurdle heads to the dugout as the fans look on at PNC Park.

The Pittsburgh Pirates sales team is doing amazing work.  That shouldn’t surprise anyone.  If it does, you might want to stop by this blog more often. 

So just what are the Pirates doing differently than other cities?  Each season Major League Baseball seems to grow their attendance numbers, but could this season be different?  Cleveland couldn’t get 10,000 fans, the Cubs had the lowest number since 2002 last Monday. 

 

Meanwhile back in Pittsburgh the Pirates rolled into town for their 2011 opening weekend series after dropping 105 games last season.  No worries.  Pittsburgh still showed up with numbers that popped.

The Pirates drew an announced total of 111,852 fans during the Rockies series.  Opening Day at PNC Park last Thursday was a record setting crowd- the second highest attended game at the gem of a ballpark. 

The Pirates sales team knew exactly what would sell and wisely placed a Buc Night/Free T-Shirt Friday  on the calendar for opening weekend.  It was a smart move and perhaps the key to the attendance spike when compared with last year. 

The Pirates decided to have fireworks on Saturday night, after all  it was (the little ballyhooed) 10th Anniversary of PNC Park.    Ballgloves were given to the kids on Sunday. 

On Friday night fans saw the team win dramatically in 14-innings.  The ballclub  sold out of the one dollar seats,  handed out 29,192 shirts, and went on to sell more $1 popcorns and sodas than a movie theater marathon would ever dream of. 

Zambelli and his fireworks couldn’t live up to the Friday night Bucco faithful, but still 25,398 fans came to the ballpark. 

Under beautiful skies on Sunday, familes made a nice early season turn at the gate with 18,043 in attendance.  It should have easily been more.

The Pirates put thought and planning into the opening series.  It’s cool that it paid off for them. 

In 2010 after four games, the Bucs had limped out of the gate with not even 100,000.  Hell not even 95,000 came to see the opening home series last year.

So after all of the losses piled up at a record tendency in 2010,  it amazed us to learn that 17,657 more fans showed up this year than last year.  

So who the hell is responsible for this?  Well obviously, Pittsburgh fans are the number one reason.  It’s hard to imagine this happening in another similar city in this county.  Pittsburgh is tremendous. 

But looking ahead is it sustainable?  We say absolutely.  Look at the talent on the field and coming up through the Pirates farm system.  It’s very easy to forecast a bump in atttendance at PNC this season.  And in the future, we trust the team can drive attendance through its’ talented players on the field, not the boxes of swag, sky blasts, and concert hall venue promotions. 

The series with the Brewers last season included the ‘Go Green’ business man’s afternoon game.   It turned into a laugher on the field and despite some great weather, wasn’t a large draw at the gate.  

The 'Go Green' hats looked as bad as the Bucs did on the field. An epic 20-0 loss to Milwaukee.

This season the Brewers series will be all night games.   

So it will be interesting to draw comparisions and see if the crowds continue to turn out at increasing numbers at PNC Park.  April scheduling is brutal.  What does a fan do?  Watch the  Penguins broadcast in high def, in their favorite chair,  go to Consol with the faithful, or….. head over to the ballpark?      

The success of the Pirates off the field is all about its’ people.  

On the field, well that’s still a work in progress. 

So how will the Pirates hand out the credit for this?  Why are the numbers increasing as the losses increase when elsewhere in baseball the opposite is happening?  Is it Clint Hurdle?  The additions of Lyle Overbay and Kevin Correia?  The marketing department? 

Hell no.  Hell no.  and Hell no.

It’s the sales team.  We trust someone with a brain in the Buccos system gives them a look in the eye and a pat on the back. 

Hell, better yet, buy ’em a steak and a stiff drink too because if this keeps up some other teams in the league certainly will.

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Topics: Pirates Blog, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Pirates Blog

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  • JoseLindwasmyHero

    Another factor that improved the attendance this weekend was the 5K Home Run. Runners paid $20 dollars (money that went to Pirates Charities) and return received the right to run the Pirates 5K (which finished with a lap around the warning track and a crossing of home plate), a t-shirt, food, and complimentary tickets to either Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. Well worth the twenty bucks.

    • http://rumbunter.com Tom Smith

      Great point. Excellent. I heard Pirates President Frank Coonelly ran in the event as well.

  • S Lucas

    I think the MLB schedule makers should be thanked for the increase in attendance. Last year’s home opening series included a Monday afternoon (39,024), Wednesday night (31,061) and Thursday afternoon (9,352). This year was weekend city: Thursday (39,219), Friday (29,192), Saturday (25,398), Sunday (18,043).

    If the third game last year wasn’t on a Thursday afternoon I’m sure that the attendance numbers would be more comparable. You also have to consider that a few thousand (rough estimate) more fans will come out for weekend games on average than will weeknight games.

    • http://rumbunter.com Tom Smith

      Good point. Weather was nice, all sorts of reasons and rumors (Hurdle was going to buy flowers for all female fans–etc) behind it, but the main reason is the people making the large sales after the team lost 105 games…