SBD/Issue 195/Franchises

Pirates President Coonelly Addresses Team Payroll, Attendance

Pirates President Points To Attendance As One
Reason For Payroll Disparity With Similar Teams
The Pirates' $52M payroll compared to the Brewers' $80M "appears to be the single most compelling evidence that the Pirates are not spending all they can," but Pirates President Frank Coonelly is "adamant it is not so," according to Dejan Kovacevic of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Coonelly, "without divulging specific numbers for either team," noted the Brewers, playing in a smaller market, have "built up [their] product to the point that it has a $50[M] advantage over the Pirates in local revenue, thanks almost entirely to having drawn 3 million fans last year" compared to the Pirates 1.6 million. Coonelly: "Attendance is the biggest factor, by far. And the best way to look at it is this: The gap between the teams' local revenue is larger than the gap between our payrolls." More Coonelly: "There's no reason why Pittsburgh cannot support a payroll equal to or even exceeding the payroll that Milwaukee currently has. Because the Brewers have built a core that was sustainable, they've grown to 3 million fans while we have stayed relatively stagnant. When we demonstrate to our fans that we're building our organization the right way and putting the right pieces into place, I have every confidence that we're going to have attendance that is equal to teams like the Brewers." Kovacevic noted the Pirates have been "profitable the past five years and probably will be again in 2009, though they might be cutting it close given flat attendance and the sagging economy." Coonelly said that the team's financial position is "strong enough that it will not influence baseball moves" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/28). In Pittsburgh, Chuck Finder noted the Pirates entering Friday night through 32 games at 38,362-seat PNC Park had seen a 6% increase in attendance to 18,063 from a 16,921 average through the first 32 home games last season (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/27).

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