The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced plans for two capital improvement projects to enhance baseball operations and training facilities at McKechnie Field and Pirate City.
At historic McKechnie Field, where a renovation completed in 2013 has contributed to record-setting attendance for Spring Training, the Pirates plan to replace the aging clubhouse building at the southeast corner of the property. The new, 22,500-square-foot building will include the Pirates/Bradenton Marauders locker room, strength training facility, training center, food service operations and baseball operations offices.
At Pirate City, the Pirates' training facility in east Bradenton, the Club plans a new performance center to be constructed adjacent to the existing dining facility. The 10,500-square-foot center will include weight training and fitness facilities to support year-round athletic performance and rehabilitation programs in Bradenton. The Pirates will fully fund construction of the buildings, which were approved this morning by the Bradenton City Council.
"The Pirates are continuing to invest in Bradenton because of our long-standing relationship with the community and the vital, year-round training and rehabilitation assets that have been developed by our partnership with the City," said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. "Our Major League and Minor League players deserve first-class facilities and the new home clubhouse at McKechnie Field and performance center at Pirate City will be among the best in the industry."
Both projects are slated to be completed by early 2015 and are included in long-range plans for the facilities. The Pirates have hired local firms NDC Construction and Fawley Bryant Architects to design and build the projects.
Bradenton has hosted Pirates Spring Training every year since 1969. Only one team has trained at its current Spring Training facility longer. First opened in 1923, McKechnie Field is the oldest Spring Training ballpark in use. The addition of lights in 2008 and the expansion of fan-friendly amenities in 2013 have enhanced the ballpark's status as one of the gems of the Grapefruit League. Ballpark Digest honored McKechnie Field as the "Best Ballpark Renovation" of 2013.
In 2014, the Pirates set new records for average attendance and single game attendance during the 2014 Grapefruit League season. The average attendance at McKechnie Field this spring was 7,587 per game, surpassing the prior high mark of 6,229, set in 2013. A new single-game attendance record was also established. The game between the Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, March 22 drew 8,566 fans.
In addition to Spring Training, McKechnie Field is home to the Bradenton Marauders, the Pirates' Single-A affiliate in the Florida State League. McKechnie will also host the 2014 Florida State League All-Star Game on June 14.