Once again in 2013, Saturday nights will be alright (for fighting for tickets) at PNC Park. No, Elton John, who had a big hit with that message, is not on the promotional/entertainment bill for the coming season announced Tuesday by the Pirates. However, plenty of attractions will keep Saturdays hopping at the ballyard. Rhythm-and-blues icons Kool and the Gang will headline the series of "FAN JAM" postgame concerts with their June 1 appearance. Rockers Neon Trees take center stage on Sept. 21 in one of two "SKYBLAST" postgame spectaculars coupling music with the spectacular Zambelli Fireworks.
Bobbleheads of team headliners Andrew McCutchen and A.J. Burnett will be given away on April 20 and May 18, respectively. In case you do not have a 2013 calendar handy -- all of those key dates fall on Saturday, traditionally the hottest day of any Pirates schedule. The Bucs' 13 Saturday home dates in 2012 were a big hit both at the box office -- they averaged crowds of 36,590 in 38,362-capacity PNC Park -- and on the field -- the team won 11 of those 13 games. There indeed was a connection between that terrific record and the full stands, with the crowd's energy inspiring the players. That same combination figures to again click in 2013. It will all begin with the April 1 Opening Day meeting with the Cubs -- marking the first instance of back-to-back home openers for the Pirates, who kicked off 2012 with Philadelphia, since 2004-05. Another "SKYBLAST" event, on Aug. 31, will feature an as-yet unannounced artist following that night's game against the Cardinals. Likewise, stay tuned for an announcement of the attraction for the June 15 "FAN JAM" following the game against the Dodgers. Six other Saturday games will feature those Zambelli Fireworks, and all 13 Friday home dates will once again be "Free Shirt Fridays," the extremely popular giveaway of varying themed T-shirts presented to all fans in attendance. On Father's Day, June 16, both dads and children 14-and-under will receive replicas of the Pirates' alternate Sunday caps. All these promotional items, by the way, will be on display during PirateFest, on Dec. 14 for season-ticket holders and Dec. 15-16 for the public, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.