In a word, spectacular. The new and vastly improved McKechnie Field now sports a wide boardwalk that loops around the outfield with a large tiki bar, concessions and numerous tables as the centerpiece.
The crowd at Wednesday evening's Manatee Chamber of Commerce gathering appeared awe-struck at the improvements, a $10 million project that gives Bradenton bragging rights as home to one of the best ballparks in the Sunshine State.
The Pittsburgh Pirates open spring training in earnest on Sunday against the Atlanta Braves. Fans will enjoy an experience quite different from the past. Palm trees grace the park, lending a true Florida vibe to a ball game. The outfield bleacher seats, party deck and concession stands near the entry are very welcome additions, too.
Diehard baseball fans will relish gazing down on bullpens from the boardwalk, too.
At a media event Thursday morning, Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston raved about the park: "This is the most fan-friendly place, I think, anywhere in Florida and probably anywhere in major league baseball."
That might be a stretch, but McKechnie Field now promises a grand time for Pirates and Bradenton Marauder games -- and, we hope, an array of events under consideration in order to gain the best return on this terrific investment.