LECOM Park was originally built in 1923. It has undergone a number of significant renovations over the last three decades to provide fans modern amenities while maintaining the feeling of a classic ballpark. The iconic Spanish mission style façade was constructed during a significant facelift of the stadium in the early 1990s. Lights came about in 2008.
The centerpiece of the renovations came in 2013 when the Pirates, the City of Bradenton, and Manatee County partnered on a $10 million renovation of fan areas which included a 19,000 square foot boardwalk spanning the outfield. Updates also included new group areas with enhanced sight lines to the field, expanded restroom facilities, new concessions locations and an enlarged Fan Plaza. Massive palm trees now dot the landscape, augmenting the charm of the 90-year-old stadium. Every individual reserved seat was removed from the park, and 4,600 new, more comfortable seats were installed. And new covered bleachers with 570 seats were added in left field, expanding LECOM Park’s capacity to more than 8,500. In addition, a new state-of-the-art clubhouse and office building was built in 2015, giving the Pirates one of the best spring training facilities in the Grapefruit League.
“The rebuilding project at LECOM Park speaks to the strength of our partnership with Bradenton and Manatee County,” said Pirates Chairman of the Board Bob Nutting. “It is a partnership of that, I believe, is the strongest in Major League Baseball thanks to the local leadership of Mayor Poston, the City Council, the County Commission, Tourist Development Council, Bradenton Downtown Development Authority and, most importantly, the support of the Bradenton community.”
LECOM Park, which is also home to the Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League, received the top honor of the 2018 Best of the Ballparks fan vote for High-A facilities, conducted by Ballpark Digest. The same publication has previously recognized The Friendly City’s ballfield as “Best of the Ballparks” in the Grapefruit League. LECOM Park has held the top spot among Florida Spring Training destinations since 2016.
“Tradition means a lot in the Grapefruit League and spring training, and LECOM Park is certainly one of the most traditional venues in all of baseball,” said Kevin Reichard, publisher of Ballpark Digest and Spring Training Online. “With some great updates in recent years that really enhanced the fan experience, LECOM Park really is best of both worlds.”
LECOM Park renovations from 1991-93 included new grounds, wide access ramps, concession stands, kiosks and improved sight lines, all while maintaining a ballpark’s classic ambiance. The palm-tree lined park was integrated into the already 1920s Spanish-mission style by using masonry, stucco and structural steel materials. LECOM Park was even pulled back from the street, allowing for the creation of a public plaza and walkway around the park. Inside McKechnie, fans moved closer to the field by expanding seating capacity from approximately 4,200 seats to more than 6,500 seats.
The ballpark was originally named McKechnie Field, in honor of Pittsburgh native, former Bradenton resident and Hall of Fame manager Bill McKechnie. The new name, LECOM Park, was announced on February 10, 2017.