It was opening day at McKechnie Field last spring training, and a man gazed at the lineups on the large eraser board above the main stairway.
He talked about how cool it was to see the names of several young Pittsburgh Pirates up there, kids who had played Double-A in Altoona, Pa., his home, and how he looked forward to another season when he returned at spring training’s end.
Summer nights at a hometown ballpark.
I was envious.
Never miss a local story.
But not anymore.
Not after hearing the Pirates plan to buy Sarasota’s Florida State League affiliate.
The FSL at McKechnie?
Election Day is Tuesday, but the balloting I’m anticipating is the FSL’s Nov. 10 vote to approve the sale.
I’m not the only one.
Longtime regulars at Popi’s Place I, where the walls are adorned with photos of Pirates past, were virtually unanimous Friday in giving props to the proposed game plan for the neighboring ballpark.
Good for Bradenton.
Good for business.
Good for a night out.
There promises to be plenty with 70 home games at McKechnie.
This is what the public wants to see.
More games and events at the corner of Ninth Street West and 17th Avenue West.
As Mayor Wayne Poston put it, McKechnie is more than a ballpark — it’s “an entertainment facility for the entire community.”
Let’s get more use out of the stadium.
OK, maybe not tractor pulls.
Capitalizing on McKechnie’s potential as an attraction and an economic engine is not going to be without challenges.
Crime is one.
That most of those 70 home games are at night dictates security be arranged accordingly.
But having the FSL at McKechnie will be energizing.
It figures to be embraced by a community that thrives on small-town pleasures.
Can’t think of many things to embody that more than having a minor league team to enjoy.
Summer nights at the ballpark.
This is going to be fun.
Mannix About Manatee, by local columnist Vin Mannix,is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a phone number for verification.