The Pirates declared a sellout today, but there were substantial patches of empty seats. It wasn't a Pitt football situation (the only way the announced attendance could match number of filled seats would involve a substantial fraction of the fans wearing empty seat costumes). As the season deterioriates, many purchased seats will be empty. But who buys Opening Day tickets and doesn't use them?
The number of empty storefronts -- including the restaurant space directly across the street from the stadium -- within a block of PNC Park is striking. Memory suggests that several of the currently vacant restaurant spaces contained operating restaurants before PNC Park's arrival. The only reason to disband the Urban Redevelopment Authority tomorrow would be inability to get it done today.
From a baseball perspective, nine figures of public subsidy to build the ballyard has produced no increase in attendance, no increase in payroll, and no improvement in the Pirates' record. The only reason Tom Murphy, Kevin McClatchy or Bob Nutting should be admitted to the facility would be Dunk Tank Night (ideally, with frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads).
Today's Pirates crowd was an old crowd, including remarkably few children, even for a school day. Although the Pirates draw from a region whose demographics are older than those of most of Florida, and the Pirates defy anyone older than 14 or so to support the club, we sense more at work in generating such an elderly crowd. If it were possible to short baseball, we'd open a margin account.
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