America’s Toughest Job


For some reason I can’t seem to find it on the website for NBC’s America’s Toughest Jobs. I see the Episode guide and I scan through Mountain Rescue, Logging, Monster Trucking, Bridge Crew, Bullfighting, Trucking, Oil Drilling, and Gold Digging (no comment). Some of those are just hilarious.

In my humble opinion the toughest job in America has to be selling Pirates Tickets. I am not being a wise ass.

Don’t you agree?

    Let me list some of the reasons why I feel this way:

1. Do you really need a list of reasons? Come on man.
2. I had you for a second didn’t I.

Individual tickets go on sale today. The Pirates have not raised a single ticket price in something like eight years. Think about that in your line of work.

Sales are good. Not many organizations can say that. Especially an organization that is staring at a record that nobody in ANY business wants.

What if your company failed for fifteen consecutive years? What if your company was the laughing stock in print throughout our beloved USA? I mean is there anyone expecting the Pirates to do anything this year?

I know some people who believe. The Pirates sales team believes. They must. They are selling their way through this recession. It’s unreal. Some of the most creative, tough skinned, and backed with a work ethic people that would make a steel worker proud, must work in the Pirates sales office. How else can you explain it? This sales team is making magic happen on a daily basis. And what are they selling? I don’t know, but a lot of people want it. I want it.

While baseball is coming off a season of record $6.5 billion revenue, many teams are worried. The challenge is always options that we all face to attending a Pirate game. For example, how many high definition, 50 inch front row seats in essence were purchased from Best Buy recently? I know I have a nice new option 1080P widescreen monster to watch games with MLB ticket all summer long. But interestingly I refused to watch the Steelers from that same couch. There is nothing like being at a game for me.

However, I will watch the majority of the Pirates games in front of the widescreen for sure. But not all of them. Even though 1.6 million people attended PNC Park last year, I was not one of them. I am embarassed by that fact. I fell into a trap.

I remember every talking head in Pittsburgh saying that the Pirates will sell out the first season in a new park. Sure that’s the easy part they said. And after that first season, they said, the place will be empty. The place is never empty. Light a few thousand in attendance? Yes it is. On some nights.

But the sales staff of the Pirates has done a remarkable job. How do they do it everyday? They must love the game and their career. I attended Piratesfest and it is hard to tell the workers from the fans. I feel they are one in the same. I had many excuses last year, but not this year. The Pirates are on my calendar again. My five year old won’t let me forget it either. I had my first game many many years ago and he will have his this year.

As I did research for this story, I realized one thing. I can think of at least twenty games this year I want to see at PNC Park. Why? I can’t pass up all of the value associated with going to a game. From group (and I paid the deposit today) to individual ticket plans. A group is only 20 tickets. We will all sit together and use the party facility area as well. (Ahh another about July 28 for his birthday party! Surely the ball yard will be better than that disaster my wife and I planned last year at the “family” entertainment center-and lil Johnny you still owe me $40 for those tokens) Another value with this group booking is I get two comp tickets for another game. Heh, if I can get some more groups together and get 179 more tickets and I get an invite to Pirates Field Day in September. That will be sweet.

I am now staring at the Promotion schedule…I want to see KC and the Sunshine Band. God I love that band. I need a 1979 Pillbox hat for my little guy, I can’t miss Turn Back the Clock against the Tigers, wonder if I can see Van Slyke? Polish, Italian and Irish Saturday night games? A build a bear workshop on May 17? That is a great idea. Keep me out of the mall. I love it.

I can get tickets delivered to my Blackberry? Genius. The image will be scanned off the Blackberry when I enter the Park. Nice touch, paperless (and never have to say those words–”do you got the tickets” ever again.) The Bucs are green. I like that too. Pups in the Park? I will have to skip that one, but The Lady Bucs Club? Nice, heh Nick you need to be at the yard that night buddy.

Now on to season tickets…I am trying to get a handle on this. The Pirates are the only club that does this. Exchange tickets for future games over the phone. (Only a couple blackouts–opening day, Indians, and the popular Skyblast) What a nice touch. Why don’t I have season tickets? I could get my own account rep who can help me with all of my needs throughout the season? Heh, that is service. Season ticket holder website. Nice. Transfer tickets to all my buddies. I could even transfer them to clients from Pittsburgh. Sell on StubHub even.

I AM IN SALES. I love these guys effort. Wow. Nice work. They make it easy to buy.

As I peruse the Pirates website I can’t help but to think of this…sure corporate sponsors, lux suites, and premium ticket sales are great. That’s the glam. But to survive and thrive as the Pirates are doing, the Pirates need the everyday fan. Although the team on the field isn’t performing well, the sales team is. I am going to help them out. I trust you will as well.

Many people think that fans will continue to go the Park in spite of bad economic times. When you look at Pittsburgh, are we that ravaged of a city? Ahh, not really when you compare us to a city like Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the country. They have the lowest per capita income $35,010 of any MLB city. I got this from Fortune story on baseball economics today. Then I started researching per capita income. It’s not a real pretty stat to base an argument on. Pittsburgh has had one of the largest loss of population compared to any region in the country and this actually helps our per capita number. In other words, our Pirates fans are leaving the area. A report from the Tax Foundation said, ”Pennsylvania taxpayers pay 10.2 percent of their income on state and local taxes, including taxes paid to other states. Pennsylvania’s per-capita income totaled $43,796, with total taxes paid at $4,463, of that, $3,054 was paid to the commonwealth, and $1,409 per capita was paid to other states.” That is also bad. Less cash equals fewer discretionary options to choose from like baseball. The odds are against these guys, many people have been laid off. Hell, I could list a hundred excuses why the Pirates ticket sales will be down this year. But you know what. I think they might be up. I wouldn’t bet against the Pirates sales team.

MLB rules call for a 60 to 40 ratio between earnings and debt. The Pirates as an organization are in good financial shape. Thank God. As much as fans, writers, and opposing cities ( I will never forget Philadelphia Fred at the Steelers Eagles game this year halting my arguement by pulling the ”Oh your Pirates” card) love bashing our beloved team, I know what it felt like to almost lose them. I have no doubt that Obama or Ed Rendell would not be in any rush to bail out our ball club. Thanks to the Pirates sales efforts we don’t have to worry about that. They work hard to ensure the Pirates will be in Pittsburgh for a long time. Thank you. I appreciate your efforts.

I know one other thing not to worry about. We can run all kinds of crazy numbers but we all know these are uncertain times… People are thinking twice about the money they spend. The Pirates are a good value. People like value. People LOVE service. The Pirates are offering both. And they offer one more thing…

Do you remember that first game you went to as a kid? I remember Teke warming up in the bullpen. I remember holding onto my Tim Foli autographed bat. I remember it like it was yesterday. Good Luck putting a pricetag on that memory.

Brody needs his first major league memory. I just wonder what it will be….