PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Standing in front of a sea of empty seats at his home ballpark, Pirates President Frank Coonelly didn’t pull any punches.
“It’s been an extremely disappointing year, trying in many respects,” he said. “None of the reasons why we’ve had a disappointing year can be used as an excuse moving forward. We gotta figure out how to get this thing right.”
The Pirates came out of spring training with high hopes rooted in its pitching staff but the injury plague hit the team on the mound and elsewhere.
“There have been a lot of things that have not gone right, but all of them sound like excuses and we’re not going to make excuses,” Coonelly said. “We need to build an organization in which we can handle some of the injuries that every professional team takes.”
While the team was in contention at the All-Star Break, the second-half collapse has been monumental.
Coonelly understands the vast spaces of empty seats.
“After the All-Star Game it’s been very poor,” he said. “So sure I understand that completely, I understand frustration, disappointment, I understand anger, all of those feelings have gone through this building as well. It’s been disappointing to the fans. I’ve talked to many of them. They’re frustrated with the way we played and they have every right to be. We have not played up to the standards that the Pittsburgh Pirates need to play. We have been hard at work at getting this thing right because the fans deserve it and they deserve nothing less than for us to be striving for a championship here in Pittsburgh.”
The smaller crowds have resulted in closed concession stands and workers staying home.
“There’s an impact throughout not only with our employees but with the vendors that work here and the parking at the ballpark,” he said. “We understand that and we accept the responsibility that when we perform well this whole area is more vibrant and we’ve got to get back to that point.”
The Pirates 50-50 Raffle each night feeds money into Pirate Charities. Smaller crowds have significantly cut into that pipeline of donations, but Coonelly says it won’t impact the team’s generosity.
“We won’t be any less enthusiastic for our efforts to make a positive change in the lives of other here in Pittsburgh because we’re disappointed, frustrated and angry quite frankly at the way we’ve performed over the last half of the year,” Coonelly said the team will make up the 50-50 losses. “We won’t let down our guard in terms of money and effort to give back to the community.”
To say Frank Coonelly is fed up with the losing might be an understatement.
“You’re hearing in my voice, frustration, anger, disappointment, really because I’m so disappointed that the fans that have poured so much of their money and time and effort and love into this team haven’t been rewarded. We’re going to get this thing right.”