SBD/June 12, 2014/Facilities

Pirates Launch Ten-Phase PNC Park Study; Nutting Looks To Build On Recent Success

Nutting wants the ballpark to be seen as an icon in the future
The Pirates have “launched a 10-phase study” with K.C.-based Populous of PNC Park that team officials “hope will add longevity to the riverfront ballpark” that opened in ’01, according to Michael Sanserino of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Pirates Owner Bob Nutting, at the '14 Veritex Sports Facilities & Franchises Symposium yesterday, said, “In 1970, Pittsburgh had a cutting-edge, visionary ballpark in Three Rivers Stadium. It turned out that didn’t have the sustaining legs as a ballpark design. I personally believe PNC Park can, and I hope that 50, 60, 80 years from now, it’s seen as an icon.” Sanserino notes the goal of the 10- to 15-year study is to make sure PNC Park will “continue to be an industry leader and not become obsolete.” The Pirates as part of the study have “considered building a hospitality deck beyond the center-field wall” and “other modifications to its suites that would add space for larger parties.” PNC Park is currently being “outfitted to support Wi-Fi so fans with Internet-capable devices can connect during a game.” The installation was “supposed to be finished by opening day,” but Pirates President Frank Coonelly said that “free wireless Internet should be available in August.” The Pirates “launched the study a couple months ago” and is paying for the review, though it declined to disclose costs. The Pirates will “work with fan focus groups throughout its analysis.” Coonelly said that the fans have already informed the team that they “don't want any modifications that will alter the view of the Allegheny River or Pittsburgh's skyline” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/12). Nutting said, “We have to be as responsive as possible to our fans. It really right now is a process. We're just getting started. We're looking forward to sharing the process as it develops.” Nutting added, “We're trying to find what the best ballpark in 2030 is gonna look like, and it's not crystal clear” (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 6/12).

TURNING THINGS AROUND: Nutting yesterday sat for an extended Q&A as part of the Sports Franchises & Facilities Symposium. He addressed the Pirates' approach to building through the draft and investing in a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, saying, "I'm not a patient person, particularly. You can ask people who work with me. But we needed to do the right thing for the long haul. ... We began to see an impact about two years ago, when we saw a team that was playing better baseball with the right building blocks. Last year, we saw it develop in a big way, our first winning season in 21 years. To see the passion of Pittsburgh light up was a confirmation that some of the rocky travel we took was worth it." After making the postseason last year for the first time since '92, Nutting said the most important thing the team needs to do is "earn the trust of this community and the fans." He said, "We need to reward their commitment with our own commitment that we are going to do everything we can to make the Pirates better. We need to earn their respect and trust." Nutting added the Pirates will never use the MLB revenue landscape and the size of their market "as a reason we can't succeed." Nutting: "We have a certain hand we are dealt and it includes market size and the way revenue is handled within the league. Our responsibility is to be realistic and be as efficient as possible in utilizing our assets. We need to use the resources we have as effectively as we can. We can't have a scapegoat mentality" (THE DAILY).
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