LECOM Park – Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
LECOM Park 1611 9th Street West Bradenton, FL 34205
Year Opened: 1923 Capacity: 8,500
The Pirates’ Treasure
In every sport there is a stadium that seems frozen in time, allowing the fans to experience baseball as it used to be in a period setting. LECOM Park in Bradenton is that park in the Grapefruit League. It is the oldest park still in use in both the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues.
Built as City Park in 1923, it has changed names several times and seen various major league teams utilize the facility as their home field. Today that team is the Pittsburgh Pirates. LECOM Park has gone through extensive renovations over the years to keep the stadium in shape to welcome visitors each spring,
When you first enter the gates to the park you will immediately notice that the exterior of the venue is designed in Spanish Mission style, with stucco walls. As you prepare to enter the seating bowl you will notice a three-part grandstand that is under a roof… something that used to be the norm for period stadiums.
During the last renovation, an additional grandstand with a roof was added in left field. It does not take long to understand the value of these roofs, as the Florida sun can give you a quick sunburn during an afternoon game. Another major renovation is a recently built boardwalk that encircles the field, more restrooms and concession areas, and a fan plaza to make it more spacious. In addition, 4,600 of the original grandstand seats were replaced with more comfortable new seats. Today the capacity of the park is 8,500.
Food & Beverage 3
The Pirates tend to lean on ballpark favorites when it comes to concessions. Hot dogs ($4.50) hamburgers ($7.50) and pizza ($5) are readily available at the Pirate’s Cove on the fan plaza. They also offer a delicious BBQ sandwich ($8.50) along with some Florida favorites like gator bites and fried fish sandwiches. Craft Corner Beers serve craft 12 oz. cans ($7.25), craft draft beer ($7.75), and a Big Storm Brewery Growler for $16.
In the past, the lines at concession lines could grow very long. The latest renovation seeks to spread out these lines by offering many of the items millennials most expect in the previously unused areas of the outfield. With the new boardwalk complete, the Pirates installed drink rails, more specialized food carts, and a mainstay at all Grapefruit League stadiums… a Tiki Bar sponsored by Kona Brewing. The bar offers beers such as Circa 1926, Southern Tier, Sam Adams, and Fat Tire. The Boardwalk BBQ stand has also been popular with the outfield crowd.
The Pirates realize what a gem LECOM Park is, and they try to use this to their advantage. There are bands playing baseball favorites on the fan plaza, and trivia contests are held between innings. The Pirate Parrot is a frequent visitor in the stands, offering a great selfie opportunity. They often show videos from the classic past of the stadium on their video board. The volunteers who staff virtually every job in the ballpark make sure their visitors are having a good time.
LECOM Park is unusual in that it is built in the middle of a city. Most spring training parks locate their facilities in areas where they can build multiple fields and other team facilities. The area around LECOM Park formerly was a light industrial area. The neighborhood now is turning into a trendy area of the city. It has museums, coffee shops, and many trendy restaurants opening.
There are several microbreweries also springing up in the area. The Village of the Arts is next door to the stadium and is a very popular community turning former mill houses into art galleries. This means that Bradenton has lots to offer to people both before and after the game.
Like many teams, the Pirates have a loyal fan base who follow the team down to Florida for the Grapefruit season. They tend to be older and retired and have plenty of time to enjoy the Florida sunshine and escape the harsh Pittsburgh winters. They love the fact that LECOM Park has not changed much over the years.
Another component of the fans in the stands are fans of other teams whose training camps are nearby. The Tampa / Bradenton / Lakeland area is heavily populated with Grapefruit League teams.
The third component of the fan base is the locals who look forward to the return of spring training, with a chance of running into a pro ball player having dinner at a local restaurant or playing golf at a local course. They are proud that the Pirates are their team for the two months of spring training. Many of these locals pitch in to help the franchise during the season by volunteering with the Bradenton Pirate Boosters.
LECOM Park is easily accessible via I-75: Simply take State Route 64 West to 9th Street in Downtown Bradenton and turn left to the ballpark. You will take exit 220 from I-75 if you are coming south on the freeway and exit 220-B if you are coming north on the freeway. There are numerous parking lots around the stadium, with costs between $10 – $20. Golf carts will give you a lift to the park if your parking space is distant from the stadium.
Once you have cleared security you will be in the fan plaza. It is home to most of the concession stands, restrooms, and the team store. It can get quite congested in between innings. If you are sitting in the left-field bleachers, there are plenty of concessions available without the long lines.
Return on Investment 3
The cost of attending a game at LECOM Park is very reasonable compared to many Spring Training ballparks. We strongly encourage you to purchase your tickets in advance. This saves you money over the day of tickets and many Pirates games are sellouts.
Tickets have variable pricing as Infield seating costs $29, Baseline Box seats go for $25 and seats in the Grandstand and the Left Field Bleachers go for $18. We usually go for the Bleacher and Grandstand seats as they give you a great overview of the field while protecting you from frying under the hot Florida sun.
There are very few parking spots available at LECOM Park, but there are several game day lots available in downtown Bradenton. These lots charge between $10 – $20. The concession prices are on par with surrounding Grapefruit League parks. Drinks cost $5, BBQ sandwiches are $8.50 and fried fish sandwiches are $8.
Unlike most Spring Training facilities, the Pirates practice and maintain their training fields away from the home stadium in downtown Bradenton. Pirate City is located about six miles from LECOM Park.
LECOM Park also serves as the home park for the Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League
Baseball Hall of Famers who has played in the park include Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski, Wade Boggs, Jack Morris, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams
In its lifetime the stadium has served as the home of the St Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, the Milwaukee Braves, and the Pittsburgh Pirates
Every sport needs a shrine that shows how a sports outing used to be. In regular-season baseball that’s Wrigley or Fenway, in football, it is Green Bay and Lambeau Field, and in Grapefruit League baseball… it’s LECOM Park.