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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

LECOM Park – Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training


Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43

LECOM Park 1611 9th Street West Bradenton, FL 34205

Year Opened: 1923 Capacity: 8,500

 

LECOM Park Celebrates Its Centennial


Major League Baseball’s oldest Spring Training ballpark celebrated its 100th Birthday in 2023 as LECOM Park in Bradenton marked its centennial year. The park was known as McKechnie Field up until 2017 when it became LECOM Park as a part of a naming rights agreement with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. (Whew! Aren’t you glad the stadium uses the acronym version of that name?) Many regard LECOM Park as the “Fenway Park of Spring Training” as it is the third oldest baseball stadium in major league baseball after Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. The Pittsburgh Pirates call it their spring home.


As you can expect, the stadium has undergone several renovations in its lifetime. One renovation was the result of heavy damage due to a hurricane. The other two took place in 1993 and 2013. The earlier renovation replaced the seating that had been in the stadium for 70 years as well as the mechanicals in the ballpark. In 2008 lights were added to the field, as prior to that only day games were played. The 2013 renovations enhanced the fan plaza and added bleacher seating in the left field area.


The current dimensions at LECOM Park are 335’ in left field, 400’ to dead center, and 335’ in right field. The current capacity is 8,500 fans, making it the fourth-largest park in the Grapefruit League.


One of the nicest things about LECOM Park’s location is its close proximity to several other parks in the Grapefruit League. This makes it possible for you to see the Atlanta Braves or the Baltimore Orioles on the same day as the Pirates game.

Food & Beverage 5

LECOM Park offers a wide range of foods at very reasonable prices. However, if you are looking for a Primanti sandwich you are out of luck. LECOM vendors provide baseball standards and Florida fare. Most of the food vendors are located behind the home plate and first baseline bleachers. However these vendors can have long lines at points during the game, and you might find shorter lines closer to your seats along the third baseline or in the outfield sections of the stadium.


Here’s an overview of the food vendors available at LECOM Park:

  • Pirates Cove is located along the first base concourse. It offers pulled pork sandwiches, jumbo hot dogs, cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, brats, fried fish sandwiches, and Italian Ices ($6 - $9.50).

  • The Home Plate Express is behind the largest grandstand on the Fan Plaza. They sell baseball standards including pizza slices ($5), nachos ($5), popcorn ($6.50), chips ($3) and pretzels ($6).

  • The Hot Corner Deli on the third base side of the field offers a wide variety of sandwiches for $10, garden salads for $6, and chef salads for $9.

  • The Snack Station is located at the base of the videoboard in center field. They offer Loaded BBQ Pork fries at $10, chicken tenders with fries ($11), a chicken sandwich for $7, and Cracker Jacks for $5.

  • Select stands offer some decidedly Florida-style food. This includes grouper tenders ($14.75) and gator bites ($13.75)!

  • The Craft Corner Beer stand offers craft beers in cans ($7.25), craft draft beers ($7.75), and a Big Storm Brewery Growler for $16.


All stands offer Pepsi brand soft drinks ($6) and bottled water for $5.50. You’ll find a wide assortment of brand beers at the stands, along with dedicated stands for Southern Tier ($9), Yuengling ($9), and Leinenkugel ($9).


Atmosphere 5

It is immediately apparent that you are at one of the most historic stadiums in baseball when you arrive at LECOM Park. The exterior skin of the stadium is constructed of Florida Spanish Mediterranean-style stucco, and a majority of the seating is covered by a roof or a canopy. The steel girders are all exposed, showing you how the stadium was built.


The first thing you will come to after the ticket takers is the fan plaza. It is filled with booths selling all kinds of foods and baseball memorabilia. You will also see all sorts of fan participation games taking place, as well as some Adirondack chairs to rest in if you need a break from the action.


As you head to the seating bowl, you’ll notice there are multiple sections of the grandstand surrounding the infield. The largest grandstand is directly behind the plate, and it is covered by a steel roof. The press box is also in this section of the stadium. On each side of the main grandstand is covered seating extending down the baselines. If you arrive early enough, head towards the fence along the first baseline. This is known as Autograph Alley, and during the pregame period, multiple Pirate players are available to sign autographs.


After visiting the infield sections of the stadium, head out to the outfield seating areas via the boardwalk. This boardwalk allows you to walk 360 degrees around the field. If you head down the third baseline you will come to another set of bleachers that have a canopy to protect fans from the sun.


You will also notice the palm trees and flags that form a backdrop to the outfield seating areas. The palm trees provide some shade for the fans, and give a more tropical feel to the stadiums. The black, gold, and white flags represent championship years for the Pirates organization. The white flags denote division championship years, the black flags denote years when the Pirates went to the World Series and the gold flags represent years when the Pirates won the World Series.


In center field, you’ll reach the Boardwalk BBQ area, which is a group area for groups of 25 people or more. The large center field video board towers above this section of the field. As you head to the right field section of the outfield, you’ll notice the drink rails atop the outfield walls. They extend the rest of the way to the right field foul pole. The drink rails are available only in this section of the outfield, as rails in the other sections would block the view of people sitting in the bleachers. If you are getting thirsty as you walk around the stadium, do not worry… you will soon see the Kona Brewing Tiki Hut… it is not a mirage!


Fans Atop the Boardwalk at Lecom Park, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey


As you complete your tour around the field, take time to reflect on the 100-year-old stadium’s history and all of the baseball immortals that once played on this diamond!


Neighborhood 4

LECOM Stadium is located at the corner of 17th Avenue West and Ninth Street West. This site puts it right in the middle of a city neighborhood in Bradenton. The surrounding area is very artsy, with the Village of the Arts right next door. There are many restaurants and shops within walking distance of the park. You might want to have a pre or postgame drink at Darwin Brewing, which is just across the street from the ballpark.


A visit to the nearby Bishop Museum of Science and Nature provides you with an up-close look at the lives of the Florida manatees at their aquarium.


The Hampton Inn Downtown Bradenton offers the closest accommodations to LECOM Park.


Fans 4

Like most teams, the Pirates have a very loyal fan base. However, the Pittsburgh fan base is especially loyal, despite the dearth of Pirate championships in recent years. Spring training always offers hope that this year will be different, and Pirate fans are also eager to leave Pittsburgh’s harsh winters behind to enjoy the warm and sunny Florida weather. Many of these fans are very traditional, and they appreciate the heritage of LECOM Park and that it has not been discarded for a shiny new Spring Training stadium.


Another portion of the crowd is the baseball chasers. While not aligned with a specific team, they are baseball fans who want to experience Spring Training in as many stadiums as possible during their Florida trip. LECOM Park benefits from this, as it is very close to stadiums used by the Atlanta Braves, the Baltimore Orioles, the Minnesota Twins, and the Boston Red Sox.


The final component comes from the residents. Bradenton is a haven for retirees and empty nesters, and they can enjoy major league baseball in their home city for two months each year without the hassle of driving in a major city or having to pay major league prices to go to a game.


Access 4

LECOM Park is easy to get to from I-75 via State Route 64 West.


Finding the LECOM Park is easy… it is much harder to find a place to park. LECOM Park has very few dedicated parking spaces to the facility itself. However, you will find plenty of businesses, churches, and charities that are more than willing to let you use their parking lots at the same price charged by LECOM Park.


Once at the stadium, the gates open two hours prior to the first pitch. This allows you plenty of time to wander the ballpark or check out the many concession stands and the Pirates Clubhouse Store on the plaza.


The stadium increased its accessibility in 2013 with the construction of a boardwalk to and from the outfield stands, allowing you to walk 360 degrees around the playing field.

Return on Investment 4

A day out at a Pirates game in Bradenton is much more affordable for fans than other Grapefruit League facilities.


First off, the parking at the stadium is limited, but you can always find area merchants, churches, and charities that offer up their parking lots and charge the same $10 fee that is charged in the stadium lots.


Tickets at LECOM Park are offered up at multiple price points depending on where you want to sit. Infield box seats are $33, Infield Reserved Third Baseline seats are $31, Baseline Box seats are $27, the Left Field Bleachers seats cost $20, and the First Baseline Grandstand seats are $19.


We urge you to buy your tickets well in advance, as this offers you more choice in the location. The Pirates tickets frequently sell out, especially during the Centennial year of the stadium.


Extras 5

Unlike most Spring Training facilities, the Pirates practice and maintain their training facilities away from their game facility in Bradenton. Pirate City is located six miles from LECOM Park.


LECOM Park is also the home field for the Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League. The Marauders are the Class A minor league affiliate for the Pirates.


Among the players who have played at LECOM Park are Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski, and Ted Williams.


Play was suspended during World War II. LECOM Park was used for military equipment storage during those years.


During its lifetime LECOM Park has served as the Spring Training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Milwaukee Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Boston Red Sox, and the St. Louis Cardinals.


Be sure to say “Thank you” to the ticket taker, the usher, or any of the folks who work the concession stands or in the team store. They are all volunteers from the Bradenton Pirates Boosters Club. The club staffs all the positions except the groundskeeping staff, at no cost to the Pirates. In addition, the booster club raises money throughout the year to make enhancements to the stadium possible.


Final Thoughts

LECOM Park has been a Pirate’s treasure for 100 years, putting it on equal standing with only Wrigley Field and Fenway Park in baseball history. The team's dedication to preserving the field and maintaining low prices for its fans is something to be admired. If you have never been to Bradenton for a Pirates or Marauders game, it is well worth it to visit next time you are in the area.

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