“Take me out to the ball game” is not a phrase that I have used often in my life, but it may become more frequent after my visit to McKechnie Field!
McKechnie Field is the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the Spring Training season and the Bradenton Marauders, during the summer months. The recently-renovated facility not only has more seats following the renovation during the off-season of 2013, it also has more to offer fans. The stadium went from having 6,500 seats to 7,500 seats, as well as 1,500 standing room capacity. There are also exclusive seating options for large, private parties, including the LaPensee Plumbing and Pools party deck.
The fan favorite of the renovation is the addition of the Tiki Bar. The Tiki Bar sits on a wrap-around boardwalk that allows for a 360 degree, walkable view of the field. This is an attractive and popular stadium design among spring training facilities. Both the deck and the Tiki Bar give a social aspect that true baseball enthusiasts, as well as community members, looking for another fun place to spend time in downtown Bradenton!
I was given a tour of McKechnie Field by Nathan March, the coordinator of communications and broadcasting for the Pirates and Marauders. He joined the organization in 2012, the season before the stadium renovation began. On our tour, Nate described his unique experience being able to see the full transformation of the facilities; from before to after.
The Marauders have worked hard in transforming their programing in order to increase fan involvement during games. One way they have done this is by sponsoring themed game nights where fans and players dress up according to the theme. Some themes they have hosted in the past are super heroes, Star Wars, and Christmas in July. For further involvement during the themed games, fans can bid on the player’s themed jerseys. At the end of the game, the winner gets to go on the field and take the jersey from the player and have it signed.
Another smaller effort the organization makes to increase both attendance and involvement is their Free Shirt Friday program. On Friday games, the first 750 people who arrive get a free Bradenton Marauder t-shirt. I was fortunate enough to visit on such a game and received a shirt myself! The store, which is connected to the ticket office, has a great selection of both Marauders and Pirates apparel year round. What most people may not know is that the store is open weekdays, and people can come in and purchase merchandise and tickets.
Tickets are also available online through the Bradenton Marauders website. Another cool online feature that the Marauders use in an app called Inside the Park. This app is available through the Apple App Store and Google Play, and allows fans to receive both in-game updates and information about upcoming promotions directly to their phone.
The Marauders have a home series this weekend starting Saturday evening (June 27, 2015) at 6:30 p.m. against the Brevard County Manatees. If it has been a while since you have gone to a game, or maybe even your first time, I recommend you go out to McKechnie Field and enjoy the experience!
There are two different parking lots available to attending fans. One, called the Home Plate Lot sits on the corner of 9th Street and 17th Avenue West. This lot costs $5 for games on Monday through Saturday and $3 on Sundays to park. The second lot, the Outfield Lot, which is accessible from 9th Street West, is $2 Monday through Saturday, and $1 on Sunday.
McKechnie Field is also located within walking distance to The Village of the Arts, Florida’s largest artist live-work district, as well as two local award-winning breweries, Darwin Brewing Company and Motorworks Brewing, which host live music and beer tasting events. These are fun and interesting places to extend your downtown Bradenton experience before or after the ballgame.
Continue to follow me this summer through my many adventures in downtown Bradenton!