I'm trying to make it up to Pittsburgh to see the Nats at some point when it matches up with our school schedule, from a fan experience standpoint they do everything right. Take a look at the link below, they have already announced their 2012 promotional schedule, with the Nats we're always hoping that they announce the schedule before the end of February when we hold our ticket draft. Look at how many giveaways the Pirates have, literally dozens, almost triple the number the Nats have (and with no cap at 10,000 items available). When the Nats release their promotions schedule it is always bloated with more than half of the dates not being actual giveaways.
As far as the Pirates FanFest goes, there is proof that it can be done off-season. The Nats always do a great job with their FanFest and STH events, it is just that the schedule change was a terrible idea, but because the decision was made at the upper management levels, no one wants to step up and tell Fluffer and/or Mark Lerner that their idea was a dud.
I've gone to Pittsburgh a couple of times for weekend series against the Nats and have always had a great time. They do their regular weekly fireworks show on Saturday nights (or, at least they did then) and it's fantastic. I am disappointed that the Nats will be playing there mid-week again in 2012, as I can only get up there for weekend games. It's well worth the 4-hour drive. Oh, and the good, lower bowl seats there are dirt cheap compared to Nats Park.