For years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been a troubled franchise, perennially posting losing records and often trading away exciting young talent in part to...

For years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been a troubled franchise, perennially posting losing records and often trading away exciting young talent in part to keep expenses down. Even the opening of a new stadium in 2001, PNC Park, which is considered a great place to see a baseball game, has not done enough to turn around the team’s plight.

Tired of regularly looking at whole sections of empty seats, team officials are latching onto a novel idea of freelancing out ticket sales to 35 eager prospective reps, according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell. The move could pay some dividends for the team, as people in the current economy scramble for a chance to land a job with a professional sports team.

Wolfgang's Vault - Get SkinnedCalled the Sports Sales Combine, the prospective reps pay $395 and are instructed in the business of selling tickets. They are then observed by several teams over a 48-hour period on how they do, and the best are offered jobs. The program was launched last year with the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers by former NBA executive Bill Sutton and Dick Irwin, director of the Bureau of Sport & Leisure Commerce at the University of Memphis. For the NBA, Sutton ran the league’s job fair for seven years, according to CNBC.

Officials from the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Fire, New Jersey Nets and Madison Square Garden are expected to join the Pirates in evaluating the sales talent.

“I always dreamed about having a ticket sales workshop like the NFL
combine,” Sutton told CNBC.

The program is a win-win-win for all involved. The Pirates will benefit from generating sales where they otherwise would not; the other teams have the potential to land fresh employee talent; and the individuals have a chance to break in with a sports team, often realizing a lifelong dream.