Since there's no way to predict what the weather will be like when the Pirates visit Altoona on March 30, the Curve do not yet know how many tickets will remain on game day for the much-anticipated exhibition at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
The game is already sold out, although standing-room only tickets do remain. The crowd could approach 10,000, but the weather in the days leading up to the game will determine when the final tickets will be sold.
"We're not to that point yet where we've cut [ticket sales] off, but it's close," Curve general manager Rob Egan said.
Precisely how many tickets can be sold will depend largely on the shape of the grassy hill beyond the left field wall. That area can seat about 700-1,000 fans, Egan said, but if it rains or snows in the days leading up to the game, the hill could be too muddy for fans to sit there comfortably.
The Curve likely will hold onto several hundred standing-room only tickets until the few days preceding the game to see how the weather goes, Egan said. But if the weather is nice in the days leading up to the game, the franchise could sell all tickets, meaning there would be none available for fans hoping to buy them at the ballpark on game day.
"If people don't have their tickets yet and they want to go, I don't know that I'd wait much longer," Egan said. "It's possible that we won't open up those seats [on the grassy hill]."
Long-term weather forecasts can be wildly inaccurate, but Accuweather.com has a forecast of 47 degrees and cloudy for Altoona on March 30. If that turns out to be the case, the exhibition figures to go off as planned in front of the largest crowd in Peoples Natural Gas Field history.
The Curve and Pirates have yet to discuss contingency plans for what they would do if inclement weather forces them to cancel the exhibition. Egan is going to Bradenton, Fla., next week and said he will discuss that issue with Pirates officials.
If the game cannot be played March 30, it cannot be rescheduled and would be canceled.
If the game were to get rained out while the Pirates are at the ballpark, the large crowd will not be treated to any kind of autograph session or meet and greet with the major league players.
"Because of the volume of [fans], it would be impossible to meet everybody's request," Egan said of a potential autograph session.
The Curve have learned that through experience when bringing in Steelers and Penguins players for two-hour autograph sessions and having fans wait in line all that time only to miss out on an autograph.
The Pirates will be busing to Altoona the morning of the game, and the Curve plan to open the gates early enough for fans to watch the big league team take batting practice.
Even if the weather is a little questionable, the Pirates could still benefit from playing the exhibition. Their final spring training game in Florida is Thursday, March 28, then they open the season Monday, April 1. If they don't play the exhibition against the Curve, the Bucs would be going three days without a game heading into the season.
The Curve have a number of special events planned for the exhibition game. They will announce some of them during a news conference Thursday, then save some as surprises for fans on game day.
"We've got a lot of really, really neat things planned for that day - special guests and announcements we're going to make," Egan said. "We're excited about it. We are in the final [planning] stages for sure."