McKechnie Field's renovations considered the year's best for ballparks

jlembo@bradenton.comNovember 7, 2013 

Rays Pirates Spring Baseball

The Pittsburgh Pirates play against the Tampa Bay Rays under the lights at McKechnie Field in the spring training baseball game in Bradenton, Fla., Monday, March 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

KEITH SRAKOCIC — AP

McKechnie Field's $10 million overhaul was named as the Best Ballpark Renovation (over $1 million) for 2013 by Ballpark Digest.

"There is so much history at McKechnie Field," Kevin Reichard, the publisher of Ballpark Digest, said in a statement. "But historically, it's not been one of the most inviting venues in the Grapefruit League. The renovations really added to the fan comfort - and the fans responded by coming out in droves."

The upgrades, which were designed by Fawley|Bryant Architects of Bradenton, included a 360-degree, 19,000-square foot boardwalk featuring a tiki bar, concession stand, party deck and bleachers.

An additional 2,000 seats and new flip-up chairs were installed, along with an old-time scoreboard, and a new fan plaza with palm trees and more concessions stands was built along the concourse.

A record 93,433 fans flocked to McKechnie last spring to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have called Bradenton their spring home since 1969. And the Bradenton Marauders, the Pirates' Single-A affiliate who have been playing Florida State League games at McKechnie since 2010, also set an attendance record by drawing 109,845 in 62 openings during the summer.

“The renovations kept the best parts of McKechnie Field – the intimate atmosphere – while adding more comfort and accessibility,” Reichard said. “It a great day when a historic venue like McKechnie Field can get a substantial upgrade and still retain its unique nature. That’s the very nature of a successful ballpark renovation.”

NDC Construction was the general contractor on the renovations.

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