We could see a practically new McKechnie Field for Spring Training 2013 under a $9-million renovation plan pushed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and under consideration by city and county politicians.
The redesign of the classic ballpark calls for a reconfiguration of the seating bowl, with two distinctive seating areas replaced by seating extended from the grandstand and press box, which would be retained. The area under the new expanded grandstand would be enclosed, while a Walk of Fame would honor important figures in Bradenton baseball history. Canopies similar to the existing canopies would be built on top of the new grandstand, with group areas slated for the top row. The area beyond the home-run fence would be renovated: seating would be added beyond left field and a SRO concourse and Pirate's Cove concession area/Tiki bar would be located beyond right field, all connected via 360-degree wraparound. Fawley Bryant, out of Sarasota, is overseeing the design.
McKechnie Field opened in 1923 as the spring home of the St. Louis Cardinals and was renovated in 1993 and 2007. The Pirates have been training in Bradenton since 1969. The Boston/Milwaukee Braves trained there in 1938-1940 and 1948-1962.
The changes would add about 3,000 seats to the existing 6,562 capacity, making McKechnie Field one of the larger facilities in the Grapefruit League. If approved by the Bradenton City Council and Manatee County Commissioners in coming weeks, the changes could be online for spring training in 2013.