Recently, PNC Park held a training sessions for all of their employees. All employees are required to attend this training to make sure that they are aware of the facility’s rules and regulations. I was there this weekend.
Since I don’t work there, I waited outside.
Most of the information that my source told me was presented to the staff was stuff that I already knew. The session is more of a review for current staff and is more helpful for new employees of the park. However, you can’t work without completing your ‘Grand Slam’ training.
There isn’t much new to report. For you fitness enthusiasts, you can now ride your bike to the park and take your helmet in with you. Motorcycle helmets are not allowed. Also, you fans can bring in as much water as they please as long as its sealed and fits into a 16x16x8 container.
I was hoping to get some new information about a possible adjustment to the gate times. Fellow ballhawk Zac Weiss wrote a formal letter to the head of operations of PNC Park in September that several ballhawks and season ticket holders signed which asked the Pirates to consider opening the Center Field Gate at 4:30 rather than 5 PM. This would allow the fans to actually watch the Pirates take batting practice and enjoy watching their home team shag fly balls, hit homeruns, etc.
Typically, the Pirates portion of batting practice ends at around 5:03 PM. There has been much documentation about this on my blog, Nick Pelescak’s blog and Zac’s blog. If you kept up with us throughout the 2011 season, you saw us a lot of the time complaining about the early end time for batting practice.
Early entrance to PNC Park is a perk. It’s the ultimate perk for me. Without it, I can definitely say that I would not be a season ticket holder. Season Ticket holders should be rewarded and treated great to keep them returning year after year. I admit, we are treated well in Pittsburgh, but I think that this one minor tweak would make PNC Park’s season ticket benefits the best in the country.
There are many other stadiums that open early for season ticket holders such as Cincinnati, Baltimore, New York Mets, San Diego, Detroit, Texas, etc. There are some stadiums such as Cleveland, Washington and Atlanta that open at 4:30 to all fans.
The Pirates definitely have room for improvement in terms of season ticket sales. They are making some strides, but this simple perk would accelerate that process.
From the Pirates perspective, they may not want to open at 4:30 because they would have to pay staff an extra half hour of pay each day. Really though, they’d only need to pay one or two security guards to stand in left field, the ticket scanner, and the ticket supervisor the extra money.
If they wanted to, they could even have a season ticket holder only gate that opens at 4:30. They would just need to open the Stargell statue or left field gate to season ticket holders. Only season ticket holders with cards could have their tickets scanned to let them into left field. Currently, we have our tickets scanned twice. The first scan is to get into the stadium, and then another scan by the bullpen to let us into left field. By creating a season ticket holder only gate, it would eliminate the need for that extra security guard to stand by the bullpen for a half hour.
Anyhow, Zac Weiss informed me through his contacts that the topic of opening the gates earlier for season ticket holders was being discussed at a meeting this month.
By the way, to finish off this entry, I’d like to share Zac’s letter to the Pittsburgh Pirates that got the discussion started on whether or not to open the gates at 4:30:
From the desk of Zachary M. Weiss
August 18, 2011
Dear Pittsburgh Pirates organization:
I write to you today to make a very simple request, please fix PNC Park. You brag about being the ‘best ballpark in America’ but in order to achieve this status you need to treat those fans that have been loyal for all of these years with some more respect; the season ticket holders.
There is a reason why us season ticket holders pay for our tickets, some of which are quite expensive and that is to watch the team, however, we also love meeting the players and getting to know them. Every weekday, the gates open at precisely 5 O’clock and this is a problem. By the time us season ticket holders get into left field to watch the team hit, they are off the players. We are lucky to even see our team hit for three minutes, and it is a shame.
It is my belief that opening the gates at 4:30 on weekdays and Saturday games is very reasonable. It would allow for season ticket holders to experience an almost entire batting practice. This allows for people such as myself to try and catch baseballs, others to get that elusive autograph and for children to meet role models and perhaps even heroes. Us season ticket holders are a family, and these 81 home games are all we have together because of various things going on in our lives…
In the end, we all want the Pirates to succeed; we are all season ticket holders and furthermore fans of the team. We all just want our experiences to be more enjoyable each game and to make new memories that we can tell our co-workers, friends and families about. The more word spreads, the more excitement will build over the Pirates and even more business for the team. Think about it, the choice is yours.
Sincerely, Zachary Weiss
72 more days until opening day…