The Importance of Pirates Improving McKechnie Field [PHOTOS]


Mar 20, 2014; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates Kelly Keenan proposes to Samantha Bruno on the field prior to the the game against the Baltimore Orioles at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates continue to re-invest in the organization and today unveiled the club’s flashy new Major League clubhouse at McKechnie Field.   If you haven’t been to McKechnie Field in a few years, you won’t recognize the old girl.  Let’s just say that McKechnie field, which has hosted the Bucs for spring training since 1969, looked like a dated park from well, 1969, until recent upgrades have transformed it into the gem of Bradenton.

It’s another example of the Pirates doing what contenders do.  The Pirates want to have top quality performance complexes for their players.  Investing in this facility is vital to the organization.  For so many years, the Pirates were cramped into a facility that appeared to be a concrete block building that looked like a trailer park storage facility.  The players would work out in an area outside the concrete shack.

You might recall Neil Walker and Garrett Jones playing catch outside the shack during one of our trips to Bradenton years ago.  Check out the video and you will see GFJ nearly taking out a tractor parked nearby.

It wasn’t a facility that was appropriate for athletes, let alone multi-million dollar athletes.  Some would say it wasn’t even appropriate for the Pirates fantasy campers.  It took some time, but the Pirates investment in McKechnie Field hasn’t gone unnoticed by the players.  Gerrit Cole gushed about it during an interview on 93.7 The Fan.

The exciting part to consider is the players who will train and rehab in the facility moving forward.  The Pirates are making moves that don’t involve the roster, but they certainly will impact it one day very soon.

The Pirates cut the ribbon on a new one-story 22,500 square foot clubhouse in the right field corner of the ball yard.  It includes a strength and conditioning room, athletic training room, hydrotherapy, equipment room, custom wood lockers for players and coaches, kitchen and dining hall, coaches’ conference room, offices, and a press conference room.

The weight room is located on the north elevation of the building with a rising roof to allow clerestory lighting to flood the space with natural light. Two large overhead doors from the weight room open to an expanded agility field and recently added batting cage building. These areas are all viewable from the outfield boardwalk making the fan friendly facility even more engaging for visitors.

This is the second of two major capital improvement projects the Pirates have added to the club’s Bradenton-based facilities for the 2015 season. Earlier this spring, the team unveiled a new 12,240 square foot performance center at the team’s training facility in east Bradenton, Pirate City.

The two-story performance center, which was constructed adjacent to the existing dining facility, combines leading edge technology with coaching, training and recovery support. It is designed to support the organization’s year-round athletic performance and rehabilitation programs in Bradenton. The construction of both buildings was fully funded by the Pirates as a part of the club’s long standing commitment to the City of Bradenton and Manatee County.

Most of this information came from the Pirates press release today, pictures of the improvements are here.