The Altoona Curve received rave reviews for how well they did in hosting the Eastern League All-Star Game and festivities this week, but that didn"t translate into a huge crowd Wednesday night at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
"They've done a wonderful presentation and really presented central PA in a first-rate fashion," EL President Joe McEacharn said of the Curve.
Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, also heaped praise on the franchise, saying, "They do a phenomenal job of executing these big events. It's a testament to the expertise of the front office."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec / Willie Garcia tries to get Carter Burr, 1, to give him a high five in the dugout before the start of the Eastern League All-Star Game on Wednesday at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Carter’s dad, Alan, tries to get him to cooperate.
"I think the Curve overall did a super job," longtime fan David Orr of Altoona said.
Those kind of compliments were much appreciated by Curve officials.
"The staff did a fantastic job preparing, planning and and executing this," Curve General Manager Rob Egan said, "and I really couldn't be happier for the effort that we gave."
Effort doesn't always lead to the most desired outcome, however, and the franchise experienced that Wednesday.
The All-Star Game drew 6,055 fans, far below a sellout of 7,210. The Curve held the EL contest in 2006, and it drew a then-ballpark record crowd of 9,308.
The crowd was disappointing, a number of fans told the Mirror throughout the game, but Curve officials did not go that far. Egan had expressed confidence leading into the game that it would be a sellout.
"Certainly you'd like to sell it out for the amount of work that we put in for that long," Egan said. "We do understand there are some factors beyond our control.
"I can look myself in the mirror, and I"ve thought a lot about it over the last week or so that we"ve done everything we can think of in terms of marketing this game, telling folks who was going to be here, telling them what was going to happen over the two days."
Tuesday night"s festivities, featuring a charity softball game between former Curve players and the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, drew a crowd of 4,894. That"s a strong number that was only 1,161 below the actual All-Star Game.
"I thought (Tuesday) night"s crowd was very good for a pre-All-Star event," Egan said. "And I thought tonight"s crowd was solid but maybe not the sellout or more that we hoped for."
"I think it"s OK," Curve owner Bob Lozinak said of Wednesday"s crowd. "I don"t want to be greedy. People have many other responsibilities besides coming to the game. It"s a decent crowd."
The Curve front office staff put thousands of manpower hours into preparing for the showcase game, which took more than a year of preparation. Their efforts were lauded.
"They"re as good as anybody in the league," McEacharn said of the Curve"s ability to handle hosting a big game, citing last year"s visit by the Pittsburgh Pirates, as well.
"Everybody has an area of excellence where you"re good at something, and they really excel at that," the league president added. "They pay attention to detail, and it"s very important to them. The fan experience, the player experience, the guest experience, that"s (the Lozinaks") walk of life, what they"ve done all their lives and they do a tremendous job at it."
Hosting the All-Star Game also meant a lot to the area, Eichelberger said.
"This is a tremendous event for the area," Eichelberger said before later adding, "I understand the hotels are filled, it"s great for the region, people are spending a lot of money."