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  • Dennis Morrell

LECOM Park – Bradenton Marauders

Photos by Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14


1611 9th Street West

Bradenton, FL 34205

Bradenton Marauders website LECOM Park website

Year Opened: 1923 Capacity: 8,500


Bradenton Blends New and Old at McKechnie Field

Right in the heart of Bradenton and within minutes of beaches lies a minor league stadium gem that has been home to teams since 1923. Only two current major league stadiums are older, Fenway Park (1912) and Wrigley Field (1914). Only one regularly used ballpark is older, Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana (1915).

McKechnie Field (now known as LECOM Field) is named for Bill McKechnie, the only man to win World Series titles with two different teams (1925 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1940 Cincinnati Reds). His overall managerial record in all baseball leagues was 1896-1723. In retirement, he called Bradenton home until his death on October 29, 1965.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have called it their Spring Training home since 1969 and the current Bradenton Marauders have hosted games there since 2010. It is a ballpark that has a little bit of everything, blending in the new amenities and features of modern venues while still maintaining a respectful nod to the past.

Food & Beverage 3

Like most minor league baseball franchises, there is often a wide variety of common foods you will find everywhere. It surprised me with such a lengthy tie-in with the Pittsburgh teams that choices indigenous to the Steel City would not appear. Adding a Primanti Brothers sandwich would be a natural selection.

The wider range of choices can be found behind the first base grandstand in the modern boardwalk where lounge chairs and palm trees are prevalent. There are plenty of open stands so lines are never very long no matter how large the crowd.

In the Fan Plaza behind the first baseline, fans can stick up on a wide range of things.

As for beer, a wide variety and specials during happy hour is available. Draft beer is $9.50, $7 and $5.50 for jumbo, large and regular respectively. Large canned beers are $9, $6 and $4 for 24oz, 16oz and craft, and Pittsburgh beers respectively. Check out the image of the canned selections in the gallery. They serve Yuengling.

Jumbo hot dogs are $5, pizza slice $5, nachos with cheese $4.50 while loaded nachos with cheese are $7.50.

One thing to consider is the pork sandwich with mac ‘n’ cheese, from Sonny’s BBQ, a local joint. It is just $10.

The only special thing to consider is the Mixon Fruit Farms Orange Swirl Ice Cream for $5. This is popular for those wanting something sweet. Make sure you get one of these while attending a game here.

The Kona Bar is in right center field and the party deck which can be rented down the left field line are worth considering.

Atmosphere 4

While McKechnie Field has been around awhile, the team has steadily made improvements to bring amenities up to current standards while still maintaining the integrity of the original design, one that now has reached 90 years.

The ballpark’s footprint is show-horned into the block at the corner of 9th Street West and 17th Avenue West, on the northeast corner of the traffic light. Both are narrow, two-lane roads which add charm to this gem of a diamond. It is a charming environment.

The box office is just to the right of the main entrance and offers an array of choices.

Know the view from home plate to the pitcher faces northeast, the right field line runs due east while the left field line runs due north. This is important when selecting seats so that you will not necessarily be looking into the sun.

Box seats (most are six rows in depth) and those under cover stretching from first to third base are actual seats ($10 each). There is netting which covers the sections 1 and 3 on the left field side and sections 2 and 4 on the right field side.

Just behind these, are sections which are separated by a walkway that spans the field area. Beginning at about the sixth row of this area, your seat is covered, otherwise you are at risk should there be rain. The canopy spans throughout most of the sections at this level (sections 1-11 on the left field side and sections 2-14 on the right field side). Seats are $10.

There are sections which are bleacher seats only and likely for overflow for massive crowds. These are sections 13-18 in left field and 14 through 22 in right field. These are also $10 each. I do not recommend these.

Outfield seats in left center are covered, full seats and provide a neat view of the game ($8). The concourse to reach this area allows you walk around the entire park and never miss any of the action.

There are many move-able tables and chairs around the field, including high tables in the outfield and in the Fan Plaza behind the right field seats.

While there are game-by-game discounts, know you can save a few bucks if you buy in advance. Also know that seniors, military and students save $2 on their ticket. Child tickets are $7 for infield, $5 for outfield.

I recommended a seat in section 12 under cover for afternoon games and a seat in section 11 for evening games.

The home team occupies the dugout at the right field line in front of section 8 and part of 10. Their bullpen is behind the right field wall near the foul line. The visitor dugout is in front of section 7 and part of 9. Their bullpen is behind the left field wall at the foul line.

The main scoreboard is in left center field at the outfield wall. While not a manual scoreboard, it does have that look and is a nice touch. There are secondary scoreboards atop the awning of the upper deck seating areas. There is no video replay.

The team plays on beautiful, well-kept natural grass. There is no dirt strip from the mound to home plate, but the territory between the bases which separate infield from outfield are laden in dirt.

Pitch speed can be monitored at left-center field just above the secondary scoreboard. Behind the outfield wall at this area is where the home bullpen is situated. The main scoreboard, the primary source for in-game statistics and video replays, is behind and above the general admission lawn area of right field close to the foul pole.

The press box is atop the reserved seating area between sections 1 and 2. All games can be heard on 1220 AM.

Neighborhood 1

The area is largely a residential area with a few businesses along 9th Street West and one or two along 17th Avenue West. Any fun before you enter the ballpark will have to come from an area a distance away from the ballpark.

Fans 3

This group is engaged in the game, largely due to the activities which keep the fans aware of all that is going on with participation in the cheers and contests. The team is pretty good, too. There is nothing over and above what an average experience would involve in witnessing anything out of the ordinary.

Access 3

There is relatively easy access, but through narrow streets and stop lights. A highway is not right next to the ballpark, you have to travel a ways. Parking is cheap, particularly if you get there early enough to get a street spot. Otherwise, the lot adjacent to the ballpark costs $5, but use that money on inside food.

Return on Investment 4

The ballpark is quaint and worth a visit. It is interesting to see the blend of old and new and the price of tickets and food is fair, and in many cases, below what you might expect.

Extras 4

The programs are large size and thick with an insert that provides updated rosters and statistics. At just $3, it is a pretty good value and a staple of any of my visits.

As far as merchandise, the store shares the same building at the ticket office. There is an array of things to choose from, but it surprised me the team did not have the most basic of souvenirs, the team logo baseball. I was told they didn’t get any in this season. Hmm, okay.

I like the Fan Plaza which connects the main concession areas to the right field seating sections. I like the tropical feel with lounge chairs, palm trees and high tables and chairs. It was a nice touch to bring the tropical into the ballpark, perfect for a gathering space, a staple in today’s venues hosting all sports.

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