PNC Park Gate Time Change for 2012

How many times have you been to your home ballpark and wished something would be different?  Since I started ballhawking regularly in 2008, I was always bothered by the fact that PNC Park opened its gates at 5:00PM.  I would get to see a small portion of Pirates batting practice, usually ranging from one minute to ten minutes, but typically around five minutes.

In those five minutes, I would usually see players like Luis Cruz, Josh Phelps, Robinzon Diaz, Raul Chavez, Chris Gomez, Luis Rivas, Brian Bixler and Delwyn Young.  These were some of the Pirates bench players from the past few years, and watching them take batting practice wasn’t much of an attraction.

Privately, myself along with my fellow ballhawks and season ticket holders grumbled about how it wasn’t right that we weren’t getting to interact with or see the Pirates take batting practice.  However, we never did much about it.  In August of 2011, Zac Weiss wrote a letter to the Pirates brass.  He brought it to PNC Park and I signed it along with other season ticket holders.  We would only hope that our pleas would be considered and not fall on deaf ears.

I wrote about changing the gate times on January 24th, and posted Zac’s letter there.

Zac had heard from his contact that the Pirates brass were in discussions about opening the gates earlier throughout the winter.  Well, today Zac finally found out about the verdict.  He called me today while I was at work to break the good news.

The Pirates will be opening their gates at 4:30PM for all evening games from Monday-Saturday to season ticket holders only.  Previously, it was 5:00 PM for Monday-Friday and 4:30 for Saturdays only.  (You can read Zac’s new breaking blog post here.)

This is wonderful news for all Pirates fans, and especially ballhawks.  Its an extra half an hour of ballhawking per day!  By my count, that’s 45 evening Monday-Friday games, or 22.5 more hours of time inside the ballpark for us PNC ballhawks, which is almost like attending 22 extra BP’s!

2012 looks to be a great season.  There’ll be a whole lot less of this:

Which is good for those awkward moments when Amy has to work and your friends aren’t there yet.

It wasn’t always bad though.  Here’s the top 3 ballhawks from PNC Park last year, possibly discussing strategy:

There will be less frustrated looks when the Pirates run off the field at 5:03:

More of this: (numbering snagged balls)

And NO MORE OF THIS:

Staring blankly at the sky behind the right center field wall of PNC Park, hoping for a ball to generously take a hop out of the stadium from 4:15-4:53PM.  Also, no more answering the same three questions from every fifth passerby.  1)  Do you ever get any out here?  2) What are you doing? 3) Are they playing right now?

But anyhow,
How awesome are the Pittsburgh Pirates for actually listening to, considering, and executing a fans request?  Huge kudos to them.  And a big thank you to Zac Weiss for having the initiative to write the letter.

How many of you wanted someone about your club or stadium to change?  What would you want changed?  Have you ever tried asking?

PS:
Also, in other non-gate opening time news, this came in the mail for me today:

2012 tickets from my season ticket holder pre-sale.  These are just a bunch of Opening Day tickets and tickets to see Daughtry and the Skyblast dates and such.
It wasn’t the season tickets that I’ve been anxiously awaiting, but tickets from the box office.  I made a wheel:

Here’s the 2012 Pirates box office ticket stock.

Much better than last year.

There’s only 56 more days until Opening Day, 9 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and 4 days to win this Brandon Phillips jersey Tshirt.

8 Comments

Hopefully the Phillies will open the gates earlier in 2013. We get in at 5. My Phillies tix came in the mail last week!

Wow! Color me surprised. I had sent a couple of e-mails to the Twins Director of Stadium Operations regarding opening times and some other operational issues at the old dome. The most stupid of the old rules was that you could not be in the first two rows of the outfield during BP. This hampered getting toss ups. I laid out my case and I was happy to receive some lengthy, well thought out e-mails back from the head honcho. He admitted that the reason many things were done the way they were done was because “it is just the way we have always done things since we took down the plexiglass extenders on the outfield walls” At the end of the day, he didn’t change anything because it was the last year in the dome and they did not want to change the status quo. That is awesome that the Pirates listened to you guys. The park I will be going to about 20 games or so this year, Kauffman Stadium, has the most restrictive gate opening time in all of the ML. For much of the year, the gates only open an hour before opening pitch. Even though I don’t ballhawk all that much anymore, I still enjoy getting to the park plenty early to soak in the sights and watch BP. The change at PNC should make your goals much easier to reach.
Big Glove Bob

This is great news. I am not a ballhawk myself but am happy to be able to spend an extra 1/2 hour in the ballpark to watch the Pirates batting practice. Erik–My wife and planning a trip to Cleveland for the Pirates series in June. Do you have any tips about Progressive Field and the surrounding area?

Thats sweet! You know they didnt want to pay the extra hours to the employees so that letter must have been very convincing.

i like all of the tickets in a circle very funny jabs…..sell them make some money like you like to do:) and sing the song….”I’m making money!”

Lucky PNC Park guys! Angel Stadium still opens at 5pm…
~Matt

I definitely would like to change the Yankees bp policy. As it is, the Yankees kick everyone without a ticket out of the Field level seats at 5:40 for a 7:00 game. The cheapest field level is $90 through the Yankees. This is almost the exact opposite your former situation. Without a Field level ticket one would get half of the Yankees bp (or whatever 30 minutes is) and then 5-10 minutes of the opposing teams’ bp. Yankee Stadium is a nightmare to snag in regardless of this rule, but with it, there is almost no reason to go to Yankee Stadium. I am actually probably better served NOT going to the games, because I wouldn’t have to pay to go through this process.
-Mateo

http://mateofischer.mlblogs

Harrison,
That must be really tough. I went to one game at Citizen’s Bank Park in 2009. It was packed. I got two baseballs. I got frustrated. I never went back.

BGB,
You would think that Kaufmann would open their gates a little earlier this year. Especially since this is their year to shine as the All Star game hosts. They’ll probably have a large bump in attendance. Why not encourage more fans to come out to the ballpark early? It should be MLB Policy that all stadiums open 2.5 hours early.

Jason,
If I were you I would try and stay nearby so you can just walk to the stadium. There’s really nothing to do in downtown Cleveland. There’s a lot of boarded up buildings that reek of mold when you walk past. There is one little nice area though. There’s a bunch of nice little restaurants – I believe on E 4th St. A short walk between our hotel that we stayed at for the Pirates series last year and Progressive Field.

Paul,
They really only ever have one security guard watching season ticket BP. At most they’ll have to pay 4 employees an extra half hour – ticket scanner, gate supervisor, and BP supervisor, and occasionally a promotions distributor. Usually the ushers don’t report to their sections until around 5:15-5:30, I’d imagine that will stay the same.

Matt,
We really did luck out. I’d imagine the Angel Stadium BP crowds will be a little larger this year for Pujols.

Mateo,
I was planning on going to Yankee Stadium on April 15. Scratch that. I was going to seek some confirmation on their policy because I wasn’t sure if it was the same as when the stadium opened. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

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