Pride Night at PNC Park Returns in 2016

PNCNight

This made me smile – the Pirates have brought back Pride Night at PNC Park. This year’s festivities will take place on Tuesday, June 7 at 7:05 when the Pirates take on the New York Mets.

The Pirates have teamed up with Persad Center, the region’s oldest LGBTQ organization, that will receive a portion of each ticket sold using this link.

Corner box: $25 per ticket ($5 goes to Persad per ticket)
Outfield grandstand: $16 per ticket
Order tickets at: www.pirates.com/pridenight

For orders of 15 tickets or more contact Tyler at 412-325-4912 or tyler.lippard@pirates.com

NOTE: the $36 tickets do NOT include a donation to Persad. And the fees for these PRIDE tickets are more than 20% of the purchase price – I was shocked to realize I was paying more in fees than was being donated to Persad. The fees are even higher if you request your tickets by mail or to print. That’s horrible. My good impression of the Pirates took a hit with that little revelation. I could just give Persad $10 and come out ahead.  Still, read on …

When I chatted with the sales team, he didn’t have a clear sense of just how invested the Pirates have been in the regional LGBTQ community. The decision by the community to stop organizing Pride Nights at the baseball game was not smart to be blunt. The Pirates have been some of our best allies and that alliance offers a significant opportunity to engage the mainstream community around fairness and equality. Major kudos to Persad Center for picking up the ball (ha! pun!) on a friendraiser and a fundraiser.

  • Beginning in 2004, The Pirates hosted “Pride Night at PNC Park” (Pridefest used to be on the North Shore.) Mr Pittsburgh Leather Fetish 2004 threw out the opening pitch.
  • In 2012, they screened their IGB video during pregame and invited LGBTQ youth to the game.
  • In 2012, they hosted an anti-LGBTQ bullying conference  during off-season with Persad, GLSEN and local academics.
  • In 2013, they invited GLSEN to organize a night for youth at the park.
  • In 2015, the Pirates sponsored opening night of the ReelQ LGBTQ Film Festival.

I remember the “first” Pride Night at PNC Park, back when Pride was on the Northshore and part of the GLCC of Pittsburgh. We sat in the bleachers surrounded by our community. My friend was verbally gay bashed on their way over to the field. Of course they were. Then we watched Mr. Pittsburgh Leather throw out the first pitch. The first pitch, by the way, requires a group to sell a significant amount of tickets. We did that in our first year, in 2004.

I remember walking through the stands in our Pridefest tee shirts (I think we wore red that year?) and hearing our community announced by the speaker and seeing our community named on the LED boards. It was thrilling in a way that’s hard to explain. And I’m not even a huge baseball fan.

So I paid the fees and bought tickets for Ledcat and me. I still think it is a good opportunity, but my impression of the Pirates organization is a little less positive than it was before I learned about this event. It feels a bit like a bait and switch because of the $36 tickets that don’t include a donation and the fees. They could do better by the average queer and trans folks to invite us to the ballpark. The deceptive element of this particular event flies in the face of the good work done in previous years. That’s troubling.

When I mention the excessive fees to the Pirates, I was told that I should consider this more than a charitable donation – it is a chance to bring the LGBT community to the ballpark. While I concede that we should support the Pirates, I don’t think that’s a huge selling point when we are scattered throughout the park and some of the seats aren’t part of the benefit. Nor did they organize any sort of gathering for us to mingle. So that’s a bit of a stretch.

I think the Pirates can do better by the LGBT community. Perhaps the marketing and communications folks will recognize the opportunity to grow this event and learn more about our community. I’m willing to give them that chance.

I was excited and now I’m disappointed. But the tickets are purchased so here’s hoping for a good time anyway. I’ll be there. What I won’t do is buy any more tickets this season. It is just too expensive to attend a second game if I also want to attend other LGBTQ events this summer. But perhaps things will change …

 

 

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