BRADENTON -- It’s only fitting the bond between Pittsburgh and Bradenton will be formalized over a game of baseball.
Bradenton, the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates since 1969, will enter a “Two Cities” alliance with the Steel City tonight as the two communities cement their tourism and economic development relationship.
An official presentation, featuring proclamations from Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, will take place before tonight’s game between the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.
Spectators at the game will watch a travel video showcasing the beaches and many activities in Manatee County, including Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.
A press release from the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau said the two cities are “putting a domestic spin on the international ‘sister city’ concept.”
“It only makes sense that we take that relationship to the next level,” Poston said, “strengthening the ties the two cities have and adding new ways of thinking about how we can help each other strengthen our economies, our tourism opportunities and our Major League Baseball presence.”
Poston and several other Bradenton and Manatee County dignitaries, including visitors bureau Executive Director Elliott Falcione and Manatee Chamber of Commerce President Dave Gustafson, will be on hand tonight in Pittsburgh.
According to the press release, tourism is Manatee County’s leading industry, employing nearly 18,000 residents, generating a direct annual economic impact of more than $470 million in the local economy and producing more than $6 million in bed-tax collections in 2010.
Pittsburgh-area residents helped the Pirates set a spring training attendance record this past spring.
A total of 88,003 fans filed through the gates at Bradenton’s venerable McKechnie Field.
The Bradenton Marauders, the high Single-A team in the Pirates minor-league system, began play in 2010 and are in their second season at McKechnie Field.