Fans frequenting PNC Park this summer have no doubt noticed they now have a chance to win some cash while they watch the Pirates make a push for the National League Central title. That's because Pirates Charities, the team's philanthropic arm, brought a concept that's always popular to the ballpark -- a 50/50 raffle.
Beginning on Opening Day and for every home game since then, members of the Pirates' game day staff have been selling tickets for a 50/50 raffle, with half of the proceeds going to Pirates Charities and the other half going to the fan with the winning raffle ticket.
With the Manager Clint Hurdle's squad playing great baseball and drawing very well, the pots have been getting pretty sizeable. The largest to date was back on July 30 when a doubleheader against division rival St. Louis attracted a crowd of 33,861 and the raffle generated $37,020. So the fan with the winning ticket took home $18,510 in addition to watching the Pirates sweep the twinbill from the Cardinals by scores of 2-1 and 6-0.
How's that for a great night at the ballpark?
"The 50/50 raffle has been a great fundraiser," said Pirates Charities Development Specialist Jackie Hunter. "It gives us the opportunity to reach out to our fans and let them give back to the community in a way that's also fun. One of the most common things we hear people say when they buy their tickets is that they don't mind even if they don't win because it's for a good cause."
Through mid-August, the Pirates Charities 50/50 raffle had generated approximately $600,000 and the non-profit's half will benefit several organizations and programs the ballclub has an on-going relationship with -- including the Fields for Kids program, the Miracle League program and Pittsburgh RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities). Occasionally, the Pirates Charities' portion of the proceeds will be designated for a different cause, as was the case the weekend after the Boston Marathon bombings in April when they were donated to the One Boston Fund.
"The raffle has steadily been gaining momentum, especially with the higher attendance numbers and excitement around the team, and we expect that to continue the rest of the season," Hunter said. "The total pots have definitely been growing -- which is good for everyone."