At #6 in our Spring Training Grapefruit League countdown is McKechnie Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. It is located in Bradenton, Florida, and is close to a handful of other Spring Training ballparks. This park was recently renovated to include a walkway that wraps around the outfield, as well as seating behind left field.
The seat expansion and outfield boardwalk really complete McKechnie Field, as it holds more fans and gives them up close access to viewing both teams’ bullpens. Built in 1923, it is one of the older Spring Training venues and feels very modern with all of the enhancements. There is an old school feeling with contemporary upgrades.
I had the misfortune of trying to attend a game a few years ago on St. Patrick’s Day. The weather was perfect for an afternoon game and I parked right across the street from the stadium. Excited to get into the ballpark, I was quickly turned away when the box office attendee informed me that the game was sold out and had been for some time. There was a scalper or two outside trying to make a hefty profit on tickets, which I was not willing to pay. This may not have happened had the stadium completed its renovations, but there are definitely more seats now to accommodate larger crowds.
Parking for McKechnie Field is located at multiple locations around the stadium. Private lot owners will try to wave you down as you make your way around the streets – you can expect to pay between $5-$15 depending on how close you park.
Ticket prices go from $15-$28, for what I believe is one of the better values for Grapefruit League teams. The stadium is great, the atmosphere is great, and the prices are justified by the time spent at the park.
Pittsburgh has been on the playoff brink for a few seasons and is in a win-now mode. Andrew McCutchen is the headliner by far. The staff ace and Cy Young contender, Gerrit Cole, is amazing to watch in person if you get the chance. There are young prospects such as Josh Harrison and Jung Ho Kang that also highlight the roster, but the Pirates are not known to be big spenders on highly touted free agents.
McKechnie Field is host to the Bradenton Marauders of the Class A Florida State League in the regular season. It is a great stadium for the minors as well as Major League Spring Training. If you make a gulf coast road trip, be sure to stop by Bradenton to take in a classic, yet modern, ballpark.