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Tired of losing, Pirates fans plot protest

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Some angry Pirates fans are hoping a protest June 30 at PNC Park doesn't fall on deaf ears.

Andy Chomos and Sean Lucas are two of the organizers behind Fans for Change, a grass-roots campaign aimed at recent decisions by team management.

The protest will consist of a pregame rally and petition-signing on Federal Street from 5-7 p.m. During the game against the Washington Nationals, protesters will leave their seats after the third inning and will have the option of staying in the concourse until the fifth inning or leaving the ballpark.

Chomos, a 43-year-old business owner from Wexford, wants fans to wear green shirts, to symbolize money leaving the building.

"We want to demonstrate that we're not satisfied with the product on the field, with the general manager's moves and ownership's not committing to producing a winner," he said.

The movement started about 10 days ago when Lucas, a Master of Business Administration student at Duquesne, sent a letter to local media outlets. The letter was reported by a TV station and later made its way to the Internet. Through blogs and message boards, the idea for the protest gained shape.

"The goal is to give upset fans, fed-up fans, an outlet to voice their opinion publicly for the first time in 14 years of losing baseball," said Lucas, 25, of the North Hills.

A Pirates spokesman said the team has no comment on the protest.

Chomos said he's gotten 7,000 e-mail responses about the protest. Lucas said his group passed out flyers during the Pirates' most recent home series and talked to 1,500 fans.

"Ninety-nine percent loved the idea," Lucas said. "Whether they'll come, that's their decision. But people loved the idea."

Chomos has heard the skeptics who believe the protest will accomplish nothing. The sentiment there, he said, is that unhappy fans can best make their feelings known by not showing up at all.

"But the problem is we want to go," Chomos said. "We paid for (PNC Park), we want to go. We recognize that the beautiful ballpark, a ballpark paid for by the taxpayers, is a jewel and, frankly, there are enough casual baseball fans that people are going to continue to go. And people should not be denied the right to go to the game."

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