Pirates Notebook: Season-ticket sales dropped 20 percent
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Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Shortstop Jack Wilson flips ball to Freddy Sanchez at second for the force out in the seventh inning.
Wondering why the Pirates' attendance has fallen off?
Look no further than the foundation of the business.
The Pirates' sales of season tickets, a process that is pretty much complete after the opening month, is at 8,900 full-season equivalents and will finish at "approximately 9,000," according to Brian Chiera, senior director of marketing and sales. The previous year, that number was 11,320, spelling a 20 percent loss.
INDIANAPOLIS (14-9) won at Pawtucket, 5-3. LHP Shane Youman (0-3, 4.38) pitched five shutout innings and allowed four hits. He struck out four, walked four and threw 53 of 95 pitches for strikes. RHP Brian Rogers (0.77) pitched two perfect innings of relief with three strikeouts. CF Nyjer Morgan (.317) went 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI. SS Brian Bixler (.329) went 1 for 3 with a walk, an RBI and two steals.
ALTOONA (10-11) won at Connecticut, 6-2. RHP Kip Bouknight (2-0, 2.77) allowed two runs in six innings. 3B Neil Walker (.286) went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk and an RBI. CF Andrew McCutchen (.177) went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts. 1B Steve Pearce (.000), making his Class AA debut, struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
LYNCHBURG (9-12) lost to Kinston, 5-1. RHP Blair Johnson (1-1, 5.40) allowed one run in six innings. LF Jamie Romak (.000) went 0 for 3 with a walk.
HICKORY (10-13) lost at Lake County, 16-0. RHP Henry Cabrera (1-1, 9.00) allowed four runs, three earned, in four innings.
It takes two 40-game plans or four 20-game plans to make one full-season equivalent.
The drop is the most dramatic since 2002, the year after PNC Park opened -- the total was 17,062 in the record-setting inaugural season -- and the new number will be the lowest since 2004, when it was 7,752.
Team officials dismissed the decrease as the norm for any city immediately after playing host to an All-Star Game, and there is ample precedent to back that. In the Pirates' case, fans were assured of All-Star tickets by buying various season-ticket packages in the two years leading up to the game.
"Our season-ticket sales are where we had expected them to be based on what other teams have experienced in the year following the All-Star Game," Chiera said. "Our primary focus remains on marketing our young, improving team and promoting our individual and group ticket sales programs."
Group sales, Chiera said, are on pace to be better than either of the past two seasons.
The crowds so far reflects the downturn in season tickets: Through the first dozen games, despite two fireworks nights and two bobblehead giveaways, average attendance has been 17,602, compared to 22,401 at the same point a year ago. The average for 2006 ended up at 23,269.
Nady back to bases
Outfielder Xavier Nady, still without a timetable because of his strained left hamstring, was back on the basepaths yesterday after a day off. He ran the bases at half-speed and turned corners before the game under the supervision of the athletic trainers.
"He still has good strength in the hamstring," manager Jim Tracy said. "But he has weakness in the latter part of in the workout, and we want him to be 100 percent before we send him out there."
Tracy said the team has no plan to place Nady, who has yet to have an MRI on the hamstring, on the disabled list.
No room for perfection
Third baseman Jose Bautista was taking some friendly ribbing from fellow infielders for having an error-free season to date. The rest of the regulars -- Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson -- have one each.
Time to boot one?
"It's your turn," Wilson said, having a mock conversation with Bautista. "Step up and solidify the infield by making a mistake. When the game is out of hand or we're winning by a lot, just do it for the team. Come on. All things have to be equal around here."
Because Ian Snell will pitch this afternoon, he will not be available for the four-game set in Milwaukee that begins tomorrow.
Ryan Doumit was in right field last night, his fourth consecutive start. He should catch today.
Former Pirates Elroy Face, Frank Thomas and Fred Cambria will sign autographs on the Riverwalk today from 11:30 a.m. until game time.
First Published May 1, 2007 11:28 pm