The Pirates are giving their Spring Training home a facelift. The team announced Wednesday that it will pursue plans to further enhance McKechnie Field, the oldest spring ballpark still in use, and the Bucs will also seek to renovate their training facility at Pirate City in east Bradenton, Fla.
The Pirates completed a renovation at McKechnie Field in 2013 that contributed to record-setting attendance figures, and the new project will be aimed at improving the clubhouse experience for the players. Pittsburgh plans to build a new 22,500-square-foot building that will include a new locker room, strength-training facility and training center. It will also house the offices for baseball operations.
The Bucs will also build a new performance center at Pirate City, and that facility is designed to be 10,500 square feet. It will include weight-training and fitness facilities that will help make things more efficient for players who train and spend their rehabilitation stints in Bradenton.
The Pirates have announced that they will fully fund construction of both buildings, which were approved Wednesday by the Bradenton City Council. Both facilities are expected to be completed by 2015. The Bucs have made Bradenton their Spring Training home since 1969.
"The Pirates are continuing to invest in Bradenton because of our long-standing relationship with the community and the vital, year-round training and rehabilitation assets that have been developed by our partnership with the City," club president Frank Coonelly said as part of a press release. "Our Major League and Minor League players deserve first-class facilities, and the new home clubhouse at McKechnie Field and performance center at Pirate City will be among the best in the industry."
McKechnie Field was built in 1923, and it was modernized with lights in 2008. Ballpark Digest honored McKechnie Field as "Best Ballpark Renovation" in 2013, and the fans responded. Pittsburgh set team records for average attendance (7,587 per game) in Spring Training this year.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com.