Pittsburgh Pirates: Why an Exciting, Winning Team Still Isn't Drawing Fans

Kyle Stanzel@@DmndPrspctsCorrespondent IIISeptember 12, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 8:  Pirate fans wave the jolly rodger while it rains against the Arizona Diamondbacksd during the game on August 8, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The 2012 baseball season has provided PNC Park with the one thing that had been missing from the beautiful park since its opening in 2001.

So now that Pittsburgh has a talented team in the middle of a heated wild card race in September, why haven't the fans been rushing to the ballpark to show their support?

The answer is quite simply that the Pirates' fanbase still hasn't 100 percent bought in to the team's success this season.

With a 72-69 record, the Pirates have rejuvenated the baseball scene in Pittsburgh, led by franchise superstar and MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen.

While attendance has been significantly better during the past two seasons, PNC Park still isn't drawing nearly as many fans as the other playoff contenders.

According to ESPN.com's attendance records, the Pirates rank 21st in all of baseball in average home attendance with 26,602 people per home game.

That attendance average accounts for just 69.3 percent of PNC Park's available seating, which ranks the Pirates at 15th in the major leagues.

Despite the above-average play from an overachieving team, the Pirates continue to draw below-average crowds to home games.

While there are several factors that you could use to explain the lack of attendance, the main reason is that the fans simply aren't convinced that this Pittsburgh team is real and what they should expect from their baseball team.

Granted, this is the highest the Pirates' average home attendance has been since PNC Park's inaugural season in 2001, but the fan support still isn't at the level some people thought this surprising success would bring.

The Bucs have just nine home games remaining against the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, and Atlanta Braves. With all of those teams within striking distance of a playoff spot, the energy level should be electrifying.

In order for the Pittsburgh Pirates to gain the full support of their fans, they are going to need to play their best ball of the season here down the stretch.

There is no stadium in baseball more deserving of at least one packed-house playoff game than PNC Park, and all of Pittsburgh is counting on their beloved Pirates to make that dream a reality.