The 2013 exhibition will mark the second time the Pirates have played in Altoona and the first since 2000. The Major League club played the Curve at Blair County Ballpark on May 15, 2000 before 7,346 fans. Pittsburgh's Double-A farm club since their inception in 1999, the Curve are the longest-running, current affiliate of the Pirates (14 seasons).
"We enjoy an outstanding affiliation with the Curve," said Coonelly. "Our team gets terrific support from the franchise and its fans and the facility is one of the finest in minor league baseball. We're pleased to bring our Major League club to Altoona next spring for an exhibition game that Pirates and Curve fans will remember for a long time to come."
An official date for the game is not yet scheduled, but it will take place before the regular season for both the Pirates and Curve. Once the opening days of the 2013 Major League and Eastern League schedules are determined later this summer, the Pirates and Curve will finalize the date and time of their exhibition.
"This will be the perfect beginning to our 15th year of Curve Baseball," said Curve Owner Bob Lozinak. "We're thrilled to be able to welcome the Pirates back to Altoona for what's sure to be a great event for baseball fans throughout our region. It's even better that so many of our former players will be back as members of the Major League club for this game."
In the franchise's first 13 years, the Curve have had 90 players reach the Major Leagues after playing in Altoona - 68 of them with the Pirates. Pittsburgh's 2012 opening day roster contains ten (10) former Curve players - including the entire starting outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, and Alex Presley, second baseman Neil Walker, third baseman Pedro Alvarez, relief pitchers Tony Watson and Jared Hughes, infielders Josh Harrison and Matt Hague, and outfielder Nate McLouth.
In addition to the announcement of the exhibition game, the Curve provided a special benefit for all fans in attendance at tonight's season-opener against Erie. All current, full-season ticket holders were informed they would be offered their seats free of charge for the Pirates-Curve exhibition game as part of their 2013 season ticket packages. In addition, all other fans at the game (including mini-plan holders) were given the chance to sign up for a special pre-sale opportunity for tickets to the exhibition game when they go on sale later this year.
"Our full-season ticket holders are among the most loyal in baseball with many of them having been here since our inaugural year," said Curve General Manager Rob Egan. "They are entitled to enjoy the exhibition game free of charge as part of their 2013 full-season ticket packages. We're also pleased to extend a pre-sale opportunity to everybody in attendance tonight."