McKechnie Field is a cultural icon for the people of Anna Maria Island and Bradenton. This 8,500-capacity sized playing field is a curio and fascinating historic sports attraction of Florida’s western coast.
With close to 100 years of history and thousands of games behind it, the park has transformed over the years into a competitive center for high-quality baseball.
Any visiting baseball enthusiast can’t miss seeing this field. But, to really appreciate its long history and local importance, it’s helpful to know what makes it such an endearing and popular spot – especially for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
McKechnie Field is now LECOM Park
In 2017, McKechnie Field became LECOM Park in a 15-year agreement with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. The original name derived from Bill McKechnie, a baseball great.
The McKechnie Field name ran from 1962 to 2017, where it was preceded with the name Braves Field from 1948 to 1961 and Ninth Street Park from 1927 to 1947. Its original name? The aptly titled City Park, which it held until 1926.
McKechnie led the Pittsburg Pirates to a World Series win in 1925, and the season set the highest-bar for the team. He followed this World Series victory with another in 1940 with the Cincinnati Reds.
The Pittsburg Pirates feel indebted to McKechnie, but the team has a storied and long history with the now-titled LECOM Park.
The park is the de-facto spring training home for the Pittsburg Pirates. For decades, the team has used it as their practice grounds. It has become a major identifying feature of their lineage as a team.
The Player History of LECOM Park
Why do the Pittsburg Pirates love the field? Aside from it being a park infused with history and victory, it has also hosted many top-tier baseball legends throughout its time. Pirate Bill Mazeroski, the legendary Roberto Clemente, and Ted Williams all played games at the park at some point.
Most notoriously, Babe Ruth dominated the field during his legendary career run throughout the 1920’s. This player history has helped cement the field as the “Fenway Park of Florida.”
Features of LECOM Park
The park is known for its authentic Old Florida style and seems to wear its history on its sleeve. The design features a charming Spanish Mission architecture style, with white stucco coating the grandstand area.
Numerous towers line up the outer edge of the grounds. Massive umbrellas are set up on each side of the grandstand to help combat the intense Florida sun during peak season.
The park still retains its old-school charm. It is not stadium-sized and offers slightly-raised bench seating going up about 25 feet and seating available around the entire main playing area.
Stats and Interesting Historical Facts
LECOM Park originally opened in 1923. Throughout its nearly 100 years in constant use, the park has undergone two major renovations.
The first came in 1993 when developers expanded the seating capacity from about 2,000 to just over 6,000. Another development project pushed the seating capacity to 8,500 in 2013.
This was preceded by a number of “fan friendly” adjustments to push tourism, create a larger space for hanging out, add superior awnings, and more. These welcoming changes coincided with the Pittsburg Pirates 45th year with McKechnie Field.
A Long-Running Future Partnership to 2037
The city and the Pittsburg Pirates officially declared a long-running partnership into at least 2037. This will keep the team in their spring training home and place of historical pride for about 80 years, and there is no reason to suspect this will stop there.
The value of LECOM Park is not to be understated. It is one of the main attractions for baseball aficionados and people who respect the long-running history of sports in the United States.
LECOM Park is formerly located at 1611 9th Street West, Bradenton, FL 34205. Stay at one of our local Anna Maria Island rentals and catch a game at the park and soak in the awe of a place where numerous baseball legends formerly stood.