BRADENTON -- The Pittsburgh Pirates are donating $1.2 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, the team announced Thursday.
"Today marks a new chapter for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County's long-standing partnership with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the city of Bradenton. Our slogan 'Great Futures Start Here' is being represented today," said Marc Dosogne, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, in a statement released by the Pirates.
The gift will be distributed over 12 years and will be used "to help fulfill the critical mission" of the club, which serves more than 6,000 children at seven locations in Manatee County.
"The Pittsburgh Pirates and Bradenton Marauders are proud of our long-standing relationship with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, an organization that shares our commitment to the young people in our communities," said Bob Nutting, Pirates chairman of the board. "We are excited to extend our partnership by making this multi-year pledge to support the Boys & Girls Clubs' ability to enhance its services and continue to provide a safe and positive environment for youths and families throughout Manatee County."
The Pirates make their spring training home in Bradenton, and one of the Boys and Girls Club's former facilities is adjacent to McKechnie Field. Thursday morning, demolition on the building on Ninth Street West began to make way for expansion of McKechnie Field and allow for development of an arts and entertainment district.
The news release continues:
The Pirates' donation comes at a critical time as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County has decided to serve children in club facilities closer to where the children live and go to school. This reorganization reduces transportation timea nd costs and is more convenient for families, Dosogne said.
"Thanks to the Pirates commitment, we will be able to continue offering hope an opportunity with a guide to the door to a great future at our Desoto Club and our school-based clubs, such as our new Orange Ridge Elementary Club, serving members who had been attending the Bradenton Club," he said. "This will give us the ability to serve more children in the community today, tomorrow and for years to come."
"This major gift from the Pittsburgh Pirates is very special and will be very helpful in continuing our success in helping young people at our clubs succeed, especially those who need us the most," said Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee Board Chairman Michael Moschella.
The Pirates and the Boys & Girls Clubs were neighbors for decades, until the organization led to the closing of the Boys & Girls Clubs' facility on Ninth Street West. Located on city-owned property that borders the north side of McKechnie Field, the facility closed in September 2013 after programs were moved to the DeSoto Club and Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary School.
The aged building is making way for the expansion of McKechnie Field and to advance redevelopment of the area as an arts and entertainment district. A parking area that was removed to expand the practice field behind the main field will be replaced at the former club site, allowing patrons quicker access to stadium entrances.
"Relocating the parking area north of McKechnie is part of the city of Bradenton's strategy to develop an arts and entertainment district in the city," said Mayor Wayne Poston. "This development will enhance the fan experience for Spring Training and the Bradenton Marauders seasons and will be an asset as we bring events in addition to baseball to McKechnie Field."
McKechnie Field has been the site of Pirates Spring Training since 1969. The Pirates are preparing for the 46th year of Spring Training baseball in Bradenton.