Major League Baseball has plenty of reasons to root for the Pittsburgh Pirates to make the playoffs this season. The chance to show off PNC Park to the world is certainly among them.
At a time in which new stadiums being built is met with increased skepticism from a discerning public, the success of PNC Park is an outlier. The Pirates' relatively new stadium couples a beautiful landmark with a fantastic fan experience. It is without a doubt one of the best arenas in sports.
The view from behind home plate at PNC is one of the best in baseball, and any playoff series at the stadium would undoubtedly feature several shots of the outfield with the backdrop of the Pittsburgh skyline.
What better way to remind baseball fans that Andrew McCutchen, one of the game's young superstars, will be playing in Pittsburgh for a long time?
Promoting PNC Park also gives baseball the chance to highlight the great fan experience the stadium provides. Pirate fans can enjoy Primanti Brothers sandwiches and local craft beers for half the price of the offerings at Yankee Stadium, and PNC Park represents an affordable getaway for most local families.
While the Bucs' payroll does not benefit much from this, one of the greatest impacts baseball teams can have in small to mid-sized markets is the affordable entertainment option they provide.
It is possible for a family of four to attend a Pirate game, get healthily fed and perhaps even pick up a souvenir for less than $100. Few comparably priced alternatives can offer this sort of fan experience.
As a result, despite low attendance numbers, the Pirates remain a true fans' team.
Even in the thick of a playoff hunt, diehard fans will never be priced out of the ability to cheer on the Bucs, so the stadium will not be taken over by bandwagon supporters as happens in larger markets and in other sports.
If the Pirates make the playoffs this season, Major League Baseball may have the opportunity to show off one of its most successful new stadiums while calling attention to a market that prioritizes the fan experience.
There is no better free marketing available for the sport.