December already…and that means…Piratefest? Yep, that’s right. Pirates baseball in December instead of January. Personally, I liked having Piratefest a month earlier this year. The event, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a three day convention where you can meet some players, get autographs, play games, win prizes, and just enjoy some Bucco baseball during the offseason. We attended the Season-Ticket-Holder-Only session on Friday, and I’ll give a rundown of what it was like.
Friday’s Piratefest started at 4PM for people who paid for their season tickets in full (which is us, but we didn’t get in at 4. That’s a story for a different post), and 6:30PM for people who hadn’t yet paid for their season tickets in full. We arrived at 5:30, and there were already between 30 and 50 people in line ahead of us. As it got closer to 6:30, the line really began to get long, and eventually snaked around all the way to the escalators. We really found it hard to believe that there were so many people who had season tickets. It’s possible, I guess, that people had gotten 10 game packs last year with all of the excitement built up about the team, and got their Piratefest tickets that way. It was still great to see so many people there to support the Bucs though. Finally, we were let through the doors and we loved what we saw.
First off, Alex Presley was right at the door greeting fans, which was pretty cool. Within the first 2 minutes of being there, we met Clint Hurdle and Neal Huntington. This leads me to my first point about this year’s Piratefest, which is that the players and management were very accessible and friendly. You couldn’t walk around for more than a few minutes without seeing a player or member of the front office walking around talking to people. This never really happened in the past years, so it was pretty cool to get to meet these guys.
The second thing that we loved this year was the sheer size of Piratefest. In years past, the event was only one section of the floor at the convention center. This just made everything cramped and made it really hard to navigate through. This year, Piratefest was expanded to the whole top floor of the convention center, and it made a huge difference. The aisles between tables were bigger. Everything was so much more spread out, and you could walk around without bumping into someone every 5 seconds. They also made good use of the added space, and seemed to have every booth or stage positioned well.
Our one complaint was the selection of items at the store. Both of us were looking to buy a new player shirt, and the options weren’t too great. I had hoped that they would have a bigger variety of items at the store this year, considering people might have been finalizing some last minute holiday shopping there. I can’t really complain too much about the store though, because both of us were able to get a new player “shirsey” for $18 with our VIP shopping passes. Overall, this isn’t too important of a problem, but it would have been nice to see a bigger store with a bigger selection of items.
The 2011 Piratefest was definitely a great event though. We got to meet Chris Resop, Jose Tabata, newly acquired Clint Barmes, Neal Huntington, Clint Hurdle, and a few more. Between the player and management Q&A’s, meeting the players, and more fan-friendly layout, I would call this the best Piratefest to date. We’re definitely more excited about the upcoming season (and enjoying our new season tickets) because of it.