BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Marauders are taking an unexpected road trip this week while a construction crew removes roofs at McKechnie Field that have been deemed unsafe.
The high Single-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates will play today’s and Thursday’s scheduled home games in Port Charlotte while the ballpark undergoes structural improvements to the roofs above the first- and third-base stands.
“After looking at it with the city and a structural engineer, we decided the best course of action was to repair it now,” said Trevor Gooby, the Pirates’ director of Florida operations, “even if it meant losing a couple of home games. This was the best way to make sure it’s safe for everyone in the stadium.”
Gooby said work on the damaged steel support structures -- rust was discovered during a recent routine maintenance inspection, he said -- was to begin early this morning and should be completed by Friday afternoon, allowing the Marauders to play Saturday’s scheduled home game with the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
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The roofs will be removed, and the steel will be repaired. The roofs may not be replaced until the end of the Marauders’ Florida State League campaign in early September, Gooby said.
The city of Bradenton announced Tuesday that Ninth Street West will be closed from 13th to 17th avenues west from 6:30 a.m. today until 4 p.m. Saturday to allow the work to be completed.
Surrounding businesses are preparing for the street closures.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County has a branch near the stadium at 1415 Ninth Street West
Xtavia Bailey, Bradenton club director for The Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, compares the upcoming street closures to a baseball game.
“You got to do what you have to to adapt to the games,” Bailey said.
This, she said, is no different.
“We have to work together to accomplish whatever the mission is,” said Xtavia Bailey. “We are preparing our parents.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs will ask parents to pick up their children by using the Sixth and Seventh Street entrance.
Another impact: The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance’s May networking social set for tonight at McKechnie Field has been rescheduled for June 15.
Fixing the stadium
The project is expected to cost about $150,000, city of Bradenton Clerk Carl Callahan said. Gooby said Palmetto’s All-Steel Consultants will do the work.
Callahan said the Pirates are responsible for repairs and upkeep of McKechnie Field, according to a 30-year lease that began in 2008. But the lease stipulates the city must contribute $135,000 per year for capital improvements. Callahan said the Pirates could use the city’s contribution to cover most of the cost of the repairs.
“Coming into storm season, you don’t want anything that could be suspect,” Callahan said.
The Marauders will play their two scheduled home games against the Port St. Lucie Mets at Charlotte Sports Park. First pitch is 6:30 p.m. for each game.
“Charlotte, obviously, was very generous about letting us play down there,” Gooby said. “This gives our fans a chance who want to see the game to drive to Port Charlotte instead of going across the state to Port St. Lucie.”
Marauders season-ticket holders can get into both games for free and may use their Florida State League passes. Tickets for the two games can also be used for any other game scheduled at McKechnie Field this season.
The Marauders begin play today with a record of 12-14. They are in fourth place in the FSL South Division, seven games behind the first-place Mets.
-- Paradise Afshar contributed to this report.