My furnace kicked on at 7 o’clock this morning as the kids were getting ready for school. Cripes, I thought, I hate still having to throw money at Dominion Peoples to pay a heating bill in mid-May.
It was a balmy 60 degrees tonight at PNC Park when Paul Maholm threw the first pitch against the Brewers. And, once again, there was practically nobody in the seats.
Through the first 19 home games of the year, the Pirates were averaging 16,284 fans at PNC Park. Their total draw of 309,387 is the lowest in the majors. Al Gore might blame the lousy weather for the Pirates’ attendance woes, but it’s only a small part of the problem.
There are other factors. Night games on school nights. The hockey team across the river is having a nice little postseason run. The allure of fireworks and bobbleheads is fading.
I think it goes deeper than that. Throughout the offseason, there seemed to be less buzz about the Pirates than I had ever noticed since their free-fall of losing seasons began in 1993. Low buzz = low ticket sales.
During spring training, team officials admitted season ticket sales were off, but insisted things would improve. To date, the Pirates have not released any updated ticket sale information — no figures, estimated or actual, and no projections.
PNC Park won’t be three-quarters empty all summer. Eventually, it will warm up. (But tell Gore not to worry; the polar ice caps won’t melt and flood the Mon wharf anytime soon.) If the Pirates continue to hang around .500, folks will get curious. And if the baseball’s bad, well, the mullet-heads will park the park to hear Lynyrd Skynyrd play a show after a game in September.