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03/14/2006 2:12 PM ET
Curve and Pirates announce extension of player development contract through 2010 season
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ALTOONA -- The Altoona Curve (AA/Eastern League) today announced a four-year extension of their Player Development Contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which will continue the two clubs' affiliation through the 2010 baseball season. The announcement was made by Curve President & Managing Partner Chuck Greenberg at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at Blair County Ballpark in Altoona.

The Curve and Pirates are entering their eighth season as affiliates, dating back to Altoona's inaugural year in the Eastern League in 1999. The new four-year Player Development Contract will start with the 2007 baseball season.

"The strong working relationship our organization has forged with Dave Littlefield, Brian Graham and the entire player development staff, as well as the Pirates' marketing and promotional departments, is highly unique between a minor league team and its major league affiliate and we are absolutely delighted that it will be continuing through the year 2010 and beyond," said Greenberg. "The affiliation between the Curve and Pirates makes sense on so many levels, not the least of which is the fact that our great fans from throughout Central and Western Pennsylvania will continue to have the opportunity to see future stars like Zach Duke, Chris Duffy, Jose Castillo and Jack Wilson at Blair County Ballpark one year and then follow them to PNC Park just a short time later."

"We're very pleased to reach a four-year extension of our agreement with the Altoona Curve," said Pirates' Senior Vice President and General Manager Dave Littlefield. "We are very happy with our relationship with Chuck Greenberg and his ownership group, along with Todd Parnell and his staff and are looking forward to continuing to work along side the Curve. I'd also like to thank the fans of Blair County that have supported us throughout the past several seasons and into the future."

On the field, the Curve have benefited from the affiliation with the Pirates, whose minor league system annually is one of the most successful in all of baseball. Since Littlefield and Director of Player Development Brian Graham's first full season with the Pirates in 2002, the Curve have posted an impressive .550 winning percentage (311-254) and reached the Eastern League playoffs in each of the past three seasons, including a trip to the E.L. Championship Series in 2004.

"We can't say enough great things about the entire Curve ownership group and management team, the beautiful ballpark and the great Curve fans who have been loyal supporters of our minor league players during their stay in Altoona," said Graham. "The entire atmosphere in Altoona is the perfect environment for us to develop our young players and we're excited to extend the relationship through 2010."

Altoona has also been a frequent stop for all of the Pirates' top minor league prospects over the past seven seasons, including several key members of the 2006 Bucs, such as Jose Castillo, Humberto Cota, Ryan Doumit, Chris Duffy, Zach Duke, Paul Maholm, Ian Snell, Craig Wilson and Jack Wilson. Overall, a total of 38 players have debuted for the Pirates within two seasons of playing in Altoona. Of the players on the Bucs' 40-man roster this spring training, 27 have spent time with the Curve.

"We know the affiliation with the Pirates is one of the cornerstones to the success of the Altoona Curve and we're glad for our fans that the relationship will be continuing for at least four more seasons beyond 2006," said Curve General Manager Todd Parnell. "It really is special to not only see the bond that our great fans have with the players that come through Altoona, but also the positive affect that Curve fans have had on the lives of so many players during their stay in Central PA."

In addition to the player development relationship between the Curve and Pirates, the two clubs will continue to work together on select events, such as the annual BuccoMania Night at Blair County Ballpark, the Pirates' Winter Caravan event and the Curve Hot Stove event.

The Curve will open their 2006 regular season schedule on Thursday, April 6th at 6:35 p.m. against the Trenton Thunder (New York Yankees) at Blair County Ballpark in Altoona. Single-game tickets for all 71 regular season home games, as well as the 2006 Eastern League All-Star Game on July 12th, can be purchased by calling the Curve Ticket Office at (814) 943-5400 or toll-free at (877) 99-CURVE. Tickets can also be reserved by logging on to www.altoonacurve.com.

Fans can also reserve season tickets, mini-plan packages, flex books, group outings, birthday parties, team parties and luxury suite rentals by contacting the Curve Ticket Office. Additional information on all Curve ticket packages is available at www.altoonacurve.com.

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