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Pirates Pirates raise ticket prices after dismal season

Saturday, October 13, 2001

By Paul Meyer, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

The Pirates, coming off a 100-loss season during which they might have lost as much as $10 million, yesterday announced ticket prices for next season, which include price hikes in most seating areas.

  Online graphic
PNC Park pricing changes



The cost for dugout box seats ($35 per ticket) and deck seating and grandstand tickets ($16 each) will remain the same.

Prices for infield box seats, baseline box seats, left- and right-field box seats, outfield reserve seats, bleacher seats and left- and right-field grandstand seats will rise $1 or $2 per ticket.

Vic Gregovits, the Pirates' vice-president for marketing, said the pricing plans for the 2002 season reflect "the escalating cost of running a major-league franchise, as well as running a ballpark, which we'd never done before."

Gregovits said a reassessment of the value of particular seats also contributed to some price hikes -- as well as some price decreases.

Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy could not be reached for comment on the new ticket prices.

Overall, according to figures supplied by the Pirates, the average ticket price at PNC Park will rise from $19.24 in 2001 to $20.51 in 2002.

"When we set the 2001 prices, we weren't able to appropriately assess the value of the seats," Gregovits said. "We've adjusted those and lowered some."

For example, ticket prices in "Pirates Cove" -- seats in the first 10 rows of the upper deck down the right-field line -- will drop from $25 to $20.

The Pirates say the $20.51 figure probably will place them in the middle third of average ticket prices among major-league teams, which is where they ranked in 2001.

There was a report early in the 2001 season that the Pirates' average ticket price was $21.50. Steve Greenberg, the team's vice-president for ballpark development, said yesterday that figure included the cost of 2,900 premium club seats and 1,000 luxury suite seats. Prices for those seats were not included when the Pirates calculated their average ticket price for 2001.

Most other major-league teams also exclude those premium club seats and suite seats when figuring their average ticket prices, according to Greenberg.

The Pirates, who finished 62-100, sold a team record 2,436,290 tickets in 2001. That total was a tad below the 2.5 million tickets the Pirates expected to sell.

That's one reason the team lost money in its first season in its new ballpark. Other factors were cost overruns on the construction of PNC Park and more money spent on player payroll, necessitated by several injuries.

The financial losses incurred probably will mean the Pirates won't be able to boost their player payroll -- about $51 million in 2001 -- next season.

Especially if attendance declines in 2002.

Most teams experience an attendance drop in the second year of play in new ballparks because the novelty wears off.

That, combined with the Pirates' poor record in 2001 and the raising of some ticket prices for 2002, could make Pirates tickets a tough sell this winter.

"Any time there's a price increase in some categories, it can become controversial," Gregovits said, "but the feedback we received from fans was that they enjoyed the ballpark experience this year, and we're trying to enhance that for next year.

"We're extremely sensitive to the fans. Pirate ticket prices still are the most affordable in the sports entertainment business in our town, and we take great pride in that."

In addition to announcing ticket prices, the Pirates yesterday also revealed other ticket-purchasing options.

A new "Pepsi Family Field Days" ticket discount program to complement the existing Giant Eagle Advantage Card Nights and group discount programs. On each Wednesday night (13) during the regular season, fans can purchase four tickets, four hot dogs and four Pepsi's for $44.

Giant Eagle Advantage Card Nights. On six Tuesdays during the season, fans can receive a $4 discount on the purchase of any ticket (excluding premium seating areas) by presenting their Giant Eagle Advantage Card.

Group discounts. Groups of 30 or more can receive discounts of between $2 and $4 per ticket on 57 dates throughout the season.

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