Pirates won't replace Expos in Puerto Rico

Updated: July 20, 2004, 10:15 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates won't be asked to shift any home games to Puerto Rico next season despite the popularity of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente's former team there, commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday.

Selig denied that his office would ask the Pirates to play one series in San Juan in 2005 to partly make up for the Montreal Expos' expected absence. The Expos played 22 home games in Puerto Rico each of the past two seasons as they prepare to relocate to a new home.

Any possibility of a Pirates return visit probably ended when the Expos and Pirates drew four-figure crowds for each game of a four-game series July 8-11.

"As far as our experiment with Puerto Rico, it was pretty much done this year, at least for a while," Selig said.

The Expos averaged only 10,333 for their 22 games in San Juan this season -- about half what the Pirates draw in Pittsburgh -- compared to the 14,222 they averaged for the same number of games in 2003.

Selig would consider going back to Puerto Rico only if a team asked to play there, and team spokesman Jim Trdinich said the Pirates have made no such request.

The Pirates expect their attendance to jump next season as fans buy season tickets in anticipation of landing seats to the 2006 All-Star game, so they have no plans of asking any home games to be moved.

Despite the attendance falloff this season, Expos general manager Omar Minaya believes Puerto Rico can host more major league games in the future.

The Pirates remain one of Puerto Rico's favorite teams because of Clemente's continued popularity there.

Clemente was a star outfielder for the Pirates from 1955-72 before dying in a plane crash during an earthquake relief mission to Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press