Navigating a business in desperate times is not something new for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Veterans of selling tickets with a bad team, the economy is only part of the puzzle the Pirates have to solve when it comes to putting fans in the seats. Posting 16 straight losing seasons forces the Pirates marketing and ticket sales divisions to get creative.
Some of the new strategies Pittsburgh has employed are keeping prices at the same level for the last seven years, offering good, affordable season tickets, and giving value in areas that would attract fans to the ballpark, such as concessions.
The Pirates offer a full-season ticket plan that is only $399. Fans can also sit in the first few rows of left field for $599. That breaks down to about $5 and $7 respectively per game. This pricing approach makes it very easy for people to make it out to every home game.
Pittsburgh also offers an all you can eat ticket for $35 where fans can enjoy all the food they want in the right field bleachers. The team originally targeted families for this package, but it is also popular among college students. The Pirates are also offering $1 hotdogs for Friday games.
The one advantage that the Pirates may have over some places is the ballpark in which the team plays. It is widely regarded as one of the nicest stadiums around baseball. Another advantage that may be overlooked is the state of the fans in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh fans enjoy annual success of the Steelers and more recently of the Penguins, so why would they care about a team that finished 67-95 a year ago? Because Pittsburgh is a sports town and these fans want to see nothing more than the Pirates put a competitive team on the field.
It would be much easier to sell tickets if the product that the Pirates put on the field matched the level of enthusiasm of the fans, but it hasn’t been that way for a while. This is why it’s so important for the Pirates to use other methods to fill the seats when the team isn’t performing as well as its city counterparts.
The Pirates will also have a full slate of giveaway promotion days such as bobble head days and hat days. They are proving that despite a poor economy, corporate sponsors are still investing in sports as an avenue to market their company. The only difference is sponsors are very meticulous in making sure that they will see a return on investment. Since the Pirates are working hard to find different ways to keep the ballpark full, it will ease some of the sponsors concerns.
Innovation becomes that much more essential for the lackluster Pirates to weather the economic storm. But the Pirates have shown that tough times are only part of the job when selling baseball tickets in Pittsburgh.