Pirates' ticket prices staying same again
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The Pirates' ticket prices for next season will remain the same.
For the sixth consecutive year, team president Frank Coonelly confirmed yesterday when asked, a dugout box seat will cost $35, an infield box seat $27, the bleachers from $14 to $9, and the upper deck from $16 to $9. Season tickets, as the team had already announced, will remain the same, too.
No other team in Major League Baseball has gone so long without a price increase. Detroit has kept prices level since 2002, the last year the Pirates had a price hike, but the Tigers announced last month that most of their seats would cost $2 more across the board in 2008.
The Pirates have had 15 consecutive losing seasons, but not even extended failure has stopped other teams from raising prices. The Kansas City Royals, out of the playoffs for 22 years, announced a 15 percent increase last month.
"We are extremely proud that we offer our fans one of the most affordable, fan- and family-friendly experiences in all of professional sports," Coonelly said.
He said the timing for an increase now, with entirely new management at the helm, was not right.
"We will, at some point, need to raise ticket prices to stay competitive. But our singular focus has been and will be on changing the culture of this organization to one in which our fans will again be proud."
Some might recall that the Pirates' most recent price hike came after they went 62-100 in their inaugural season at PNC Park in 2001. That was met with great public derision, a backlash that possibly resonates among some in the team's front office to this day.
Coonelly, who took his post in September, dismissed that as a factor.
"History did not drive my thinking," he said.
The Pirates' average ticket price of $17.07 was sixth cheapest in the majors last season, according to the most recent survey by Team Marketing Report. The major-league average was $22.69, and the most expensive average was the Boston Red Sox's $47.71 in Fenway Park.
The Pirates also are steering clear of an industry trend to raise prices for select games, a practice known as premium pricing. The Cleveland Indians, for example, are raising prices 38 percent on 31 home games, including opening day, visits from the high-profile New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox and all weekend games beginning in mid-June.
With the Yankees visiting PNC Park June 24-26, their first trip to Pittsburgh since the 1960 World Series, the Pirates might have seized on the opportunity to begin premium pricing for what are sure to be three sellouts.
The subject was raised, Coonelly acknowledged, but shot down.
"We chose not to put a premium on any of our great games next year," he said. "In fact, we gave our loyal season-ticket holders the opportunity to purchase additional tickets to the Yankees games."
If a season-ticket holder pays an account in full by Feb. 8, that customer can buy additional tickets for the Yankees series before they go on sale to the general public.
Season tickets are on sale now. Individual game tickets will go on sale in early March.
NOTES -- Reliever Masumi Kuwata, who made 19 appearances for the Pirates last year and considered retirement after posting a 9.43 ERA, has informed general manager Neal Huntington he would like to return to the team next season. Kuwata is flying from Japan to the United States for a medical exam early next week. He is willing to take a one-year, minor-league contract, as he did last season. ... The Pirates named Jackie Bowen one of their two national crosscheckers in the scouting department, joining Jimmy Lester. Bowen, 48, had been a special assistant to the general manager dating to his hiring in early 2005. ... Tomorrow is the last day for teams to offer salary arbitration to their free agents, a process that, in some cases, brings draft picks as compensation when another team signs them. The Pirates have no such players, Huntington confirmed. ... Ed Creech, the Pirates' scouting director for six years until being fired last month, was hired yesterday by the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor on amateur talent.
First Published November 30, 2007 12:00 am