Not only are the Pirates coming to Altoona for an exhibition game next year, the date could not be any better for the Curve franchise.
The game against the Bucs at Peoples Natural Gas Field will take place Saturday, March 30 - the day before Easter - at 2 p.m. Tickets are not yet on sale.
If the weather is good, the Saturday game could give the Curve a chance to top 10,000 fans for the first time. The ballpark record is 9,308, set during the Eastern League All-Star Game in 2006.
"Because it's a holiday weekend, it will give a lot of folks an opportunity to be here for the game," Curve general manager Rob Egan said.
March weather is always unpredictable, but on March 30 of this year, the temperature was in the upper-50s. Similar weather next year - and the Pirates potentially coming off their first winning season since 1992 - could generate enormous local interest in the game.
The exhibition game was first announced in late March, and at the time the Curve and Pirates were discussing several possible dates, including April 1 or 2, a Monday or Tuesday.
Egan said being able to have the game on a weekend and during the afternoon provide the best opportunities for the largest crowd possible. It's also not on Easter Sunday, which had been a possibility but may not have drawn as well as the preceding Saturday.
The Pirates' trip to Altoona is believed to be their only post-Florida exhibition game scheduled, at least for now. There had been talk of the Bucs also playing at Triple-A Indianapolis, but the fate of that contest is unknown.
Curve officials believe they would be able to fit 10,000 fans into Peoples Natural Gas Field, which seats 7,210. The largest crowd this year was 8,485 on the Fourth of July.
Egan was at that game and at the 2006 All-Star Game and said, "Even though the park was packed, it didn't seem uncomfortable. And we have the type of park that's conducive to a lot of standing room."
The Pirates visited Altoona for an exhibition on Monday, May 15, 2000, and that afternoon game drew a crowd of 7,346.