BRADENTON -- A year after vetoing $500,000 for improvements at Pirate City, Gov. Rick Scott signed off on $750,000 for the project this year from the State Economic Enhancement & Development Trust Fund.
In January, the city increased its request from the previous year to $1 million. The state Senate approved the full amount while the House recommended reducing the request to $125,000.
According to the initial request, city officials said the funds are to be used as an "economic development project" and for capital improvements to the facility. Earlier this year, city administrator Carl Callahan said Pirate City has proven itself as a revenue generator.
In 2014, the facility generated $167,551 in sales taxes and an additional $18,453 in resort taxes. Besides being the spring training base for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the facilities host other types of baseball tournaments, from college to international, and is available for corporate meetings, wedding receptions, concerts and more.
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The Pirates invested about $11 million upgrading Pirate City and McKechnie Field when it renewed a 30-year lease in 2008. Since then, it has acquired $9 million in state funding.
It is those improvements that have led to Pirate City and McKechnie Field hosting several other activities. On Thursday, Mayor Wayne Poston said this year's funding will help contribute toward the facility being a further asset to the city.
"We are really excited about this," said Poston. "The funds will be used to improve the fields at the sports park. We got a request in last year and Gov. Scott vetoed it, so we are glad to see it."
Poston said it's up to the Legislature as to when the funds will be released, but he looks forward to making further improvements to what is already considered to be a state-of-the-art facility. Pirate City offers fully functional dorms with each dorm featuring three suites. Amenities include on-site catering, conference space and the World Series Conference Room featuring full multi-media capability that can fit 100 people.
There is a board room, a first-floor meeting room, clubhouse classroom and of course, world class baseball facilities.
A Pirates spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.