Pittsburgh Roars & the Pirates

Stocks & Pedestal
Illustrations by Ted Crow Pittsburgh Roars & the Pirates
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On a pedestal: Pittsburgh roars ahead

Western Pennsylvania has never been a place where marketing held much sway. The companies that supplied the oil, steel, glass, aluminum and money for America’s expansion didn’t need to market. America called on them. Marketing may even have been somewhat distasteful in Pittsburgh, where understatement is a virtue.


Times do change, though, and cities across the globe now battle to crow about their attractions. And while Pittsburgh may have exponentially more to offer than, for instance, Charlotte, that city’s claim to be in “The Research Triangle” resonates in the public mind, regardless of comparative reality.

Despite having assets unparalleled by any city our size, many efforts here to “flaunt it” have been cautious and tentative. It takes guts to create marketing initiatives in Pittsburgh, as they give rise to murmurings, questions or outright ridicule.

That has begun to change, however. Last year, under the guidance of the R.K. Mellon Foundation’s Mike Watson and Eat’n Park’s Suzy Broadhurst, Pittsburgh Roars was launched by Marguerite J. Marks.

The idea was to celebrate Pittsburgh’s offerings and attractions in a coordinated way, both here and elsewhere. The timing was perfect with the Super Bowl win, the All-​Star game and the usually outstanding blend of cultural events. But perhaps the timing is always perfect for marketing Pittsburgh.

We’re placing Pittsburgh Roars on the pedestal for seizing the initiative, showing results and getting the word out. Pittsburgh Roars will soon change its name but shouldn’t change its mission. It must build on the momentum.

As Machiavelli famously said, “Fortune favors the bold.”

In the stocks: Pittsburgh Pirates — time for a change

It can’t be done. You can’t win in a small market. The Pirates have tried everything. They built a great stadium, but don’t expect a winner. It’s OK if they profit despite losing seasons. Just be happy baseball’s still here. Blah blah blah.

Never was it more clear what a winning team can do for a city than after the Steelers’ Super Bowl victory. We were all winners, and the spotlight beamed on Pittsburgh. That’s precisely why we treat our teams differently than other businesses. Civic pride is why we spend hundreds of millions for their stadiums.

Conversely, what is the effect when our baseball team vies for the worst record in the majors on its way to a 14th-​straight losing season? Hard to say. Pro teams are a big reason kids love their city, or don’t. What’s our recourse when a youngster says, “No thanks Dad, I don’t want to go to the game — they never win”? On opening day, Michael Keaton gave us an idea. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Then later with reporters he fired a high and tight fastball at Pirate management. Keaton said fans shouldn’t put up with it anymore. We agree.

Pittsburgh Quarterly is taking the Pirates into custody for a serious civic infraction: making us out to be hapless losers. The current ownership has marooned the Pittsburgh Pirates, effectively leaving one of the proudest baseball franchises on a desert isle to die in the sun. It’s time for change at the top. Free the Pirates!


PQ Staff

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