SBD/Issue 21/Franchises

Bob Nutting, Frank Coonelly Address State Of The Pirates

Despite Recording Their 17th Straight Losing 
Season, Pirates Saw Attendance Drop Just 1.9%
Pirates Owner Bob Nutting and President Frank Coonelly both addressed the state of the franchise in separate interviews, and Nutting said "nothing about the current economy has impacted my long-term commitment," according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. Nutting noted the Pirates this season were down just 1.9% in attendance at PNC Park, and said, "Despite the economy, the Pirates have gotten remarkably good support from our fans." The team has been under fire for its low payroll and recent personnel moves, but Nutting said, "We've made difficult decisions. The proof of the correctness of those decisions won't be shown for some time." Coonelly said, "The way I look at payroll is the 40-man roster payroll, which was about $54[M] going into this season. ... We haven't yet set a budget number for next year, but we do have flexibility to add payroll to the club if we (can get) players in either the free-agent or trade market who have higher (salaries). The good news is, we have a strong financial base. We can afford to add payroll if there are players who can help us win." Nutting: "We've been opening up and committing dollars to the amateur draft and international signings. ... When you look at baseball operations, those dollars have grown." Meanwhile, Coonelly said he is "very pleased with the work" of GM Neal Huntington and manager John Russell, and added, "I fully expect JR and Neal will be long-time members of the Pirates organization." Nutting acquired majority ownership in '07, and when asked about previous ownership, he said, "As you look back at every leadership group and owner, I'm sure there are things each one would've liked to have done differently. I still respect what Kevin [McClatchy] did, because this ballpark would not exist, and I'm not sure the Pirates would still be in Pittsburgh" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 10/11).

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