PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – PNC Park is over 15 years old, and the Pirates say the ballpark needs a bit of a make-over.
The question is who pays for it.
In a strongly written letter to their landlord, the Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA) that owns the ballpark, Pirates president Frank Coonelly threatened a lawsuit and questioned the authority’s desire to maintain a first-class ballpark, writing, “The SEA’s refusal to recognize and fund needed capital repairs makes it impossible for us to maintain a first class sports facility.”
“This dispute is essentially over what is a capital repair that the SEA is obligated to pay for, and what is a capital improvement that must be paid for by the Pittsburgh Pirates.”
The SEA claims the Pirates are calling improvements “repairs” in order to shift the cost to them.
In his letter, obtained by KDKA, Coonelly outlined six areas where repairs are needed at PNC Park — sports lighting, ballpark seats, carpet and wood flooring in the Lexus Club, painting in the suites and Lexus Club, and the out-of-town scoreboard.
The Pirates say all these are repairs, are covered by their lease and that they have spent millions of dollars of their own on improvements over the years.
Neither the Pirates nor the SEA would appear on camera, but SEA executive director Mary Conturo told me she hopes legal action can be avoided, noting, “We disagree with their conclusion that the public is obligated to pay for certain replacements on demand, whether they are needed or not.”
“We are looking at each one individually. It’s my expectation that certain pieces of this would be our responsibility,” added Conturo.
Fans have mixed views about repairs.
“I kind of like it the way it is. It’s very family friendly,” says Shea George of New Brighton.
“It doesn’t look like it’s brand new anymore, but I don’t think it’s run down. It’s developing character,” said Terry Smith of Aliquippa.
And who should pay for repairs?
“I say the owner of the ballpark, the SEA,” says Dejah Springer of Sharpsville.
The Pirates,” says Kathy Traynor of Canonsburg. “They’re making money from the tickets, right, so yes.”
Well, part of the ticket price funds the SEA’s Capital Reserve Fund and that’s the money the Pirates want for repairs.