Thursday, June 12, 2014

If it ain't broke...

The Pirates announced on Wednesday that they’d retained the services of a sports architecture firm to study the long-term future of PNC Park.
Per the Post-Gazette’s incomparable Michael Sanserino:
The goal, Mr. Coonelly said, is to make sure PNC Park lasts as long as Forbes Field, which housed the Pirates for 62 years, and that it doesn’t grow obsolete like Three Rivers Stadium, which was abandoned after 30 years in operation. PNC Park opened in 2001.
Though Coonelly’s point is paraphrased, the action speaks for itself. The Pirates are entertaining the notion that PNC Park could become outdated. Think about that for a second.
Sanserino’s article posted at 10:01 a.m. Seventeen minutes later, the Pirates (specifically Drew Cloud, executive vice president, chief sales and marketing officer), acutely aware of whose opinion really matters, sent me an e-mail.
PNC Park is in its 14th season! We are proud to play in what many believe to be the best ballpark in America. To that end, we are committed to enhancing and improving not only the ballpark but the overall fan experience. We are currently in the early stages of developing a Master Plan for the next generation of PNC Park.
How does this worry me? Let’s count the ways.
First, let’s be real about something: the American professional level of baseball is the highest in the world, and demands the nicest facilities. You’re not going to go to Japan or Central America and see a nicer ballpark, and they don’t play baseball in London, Paris or Dubai. The facility in question isn’t the nicest ballpark in the country, it’s the nicest ballpark on the planet. It has been since it opened 14 years ago, and not a single new park constructed since can touch it. San Francisco’s is the only one to even make it into the conversation, but it still makes for a short and unexciting debate.
PNC Park is architectural bottled lightening. It was designed and built so efficiently that it came in under budget, allowing its builders to use a higher quality of limestone on the exterior than they’d originally planned for. It’s a gem.
If your chief sales and marketing officer is only willing to tiptoe around that notion to the tune of “in what many believe to be the best ballpark,” you need to find a new chief sales and marketing officer — or at least hire someone to start writing his material for him (I’m available!).
Second, the entire point of building this ballpark in the first place was to give the baseball team a home as timeless as it is permanent. Now we’re not even two decades into its existence, mere months removed from a period of unrivaled futility, and these assholes are already looking to fix what’s not broken.
It continues:
We have engaged Populous
I have no idea what that is.
Oh, HOK! Still have no idea who that is. Did the put the HOK in hoka hey?
There will be six (6) sessions taking place at PNC Park on Tuesday, June 17 and Wednesday, June 18. If you are interested in participating (unfortunately this invitation is nontransferable), please complete the very brief survey to determine when the session will take place and if there is still space available. For those that do participate in the sessions, as a "thank you" we will provide four tickets to one of a selection of Pirates games.
They want me to come to PNC Park and tell them what I think? I’ve been waiting years for this. I always thought it would come in the form of a desperate phone call, but this will do just fine.
I took the survey, telling the Pirates my name (Matthew), age (29-36) and the number of games I go to each year (5+, the highest available option). I was then redirected to a screen which informed me that there were no sessions open for someone meeting these criteria, but that I should feel free to fill out the comment box in the space provided with any feedback I might have.
Well that’s just fucking insulting.
On a hunch, I hit the back button and changed my answers to the latter two questions. Sure enough, if you’re younger and go to fewer than five games a year, they’d love to have you over for tea. I filled it out again with still different answers and found the same holds true if you’re older. I tried to definitively isolate the variable that was keeping me from participating in this exchange, though the website ultimately figured out after five or six tries that I had already taken the survey. That said, I have every reason to believe that the Pirates only want to hear from people who go to fewer than five games a year.
Since the Pirates aren’t interested in having me over for coffee and a hot dog, I’m going to use my special powers of editorial publication to drop a 10-ton truth bomb here and just assume someone will pass it along to them:
I know what you’re doing. I know where you guys are going with this. You don’t need to add more seats to the ballpark. You don’t need to put in a pool. You don’t need to find a way to add more luxury suites. You don’t need more dining options, racing pierogies or assholes shooting hot dog vouchers shaped like hot dogs into the stands.
You have a good thing going here. Don’t fuck it up.

1 comment:

Gumbrinus said...

Having moved out of the area, I have not been to PNC Park for a few years. But having attended many games there ... and many more at storied ballparks across the country while following the Grateful Dead during the 80s and 90s, I second your emotion that Pittsburgh Pirates play in a freakin' baseball palace. I'm not sure what cockamamie ideas the front office came up with during June, but I encourage them to keep their noses out of it. Better to focus on building a winning team, not rejiggering a perfectly awesome ballpark.