LECOM Park (McKechnie Field)
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates (Spring Training)/Bradenton Marauders
Affiliate: Pittsburgh Pirates (Single A)
Ballpark Basics: A historic ballpark that does not show its age
LECOM Park (McKechnie Field) opened in 1923 and is currently the oldest ballpark used for Spring Training (and third oldest used by a MLB team). The likes of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Roberto Clemente have played on the field. However, as you walk around you would never realize it. The Pirates have done an amazing job of combining the classic aspects with the modern needs of today’s fans.
Situated in the middle of a residential neighborhood with a white stucco covered grandstand, LECOM Park/McKechnie Field does a great job with fitting in the the surrounding neighborhood. Since the ballpark is shoehorned into the neighborhood there is not a wealth of parking lots nearby. However, many enterprising businesses will sell you a spot. You can also drive a couple blocks off and park in the neighborhood.
The seating is divided into three large covered grandstands with additional bleacher seating down each line. There are plenty of opportunities to watch the game from other vantage points as well. A 19,000 square foot boardwalk that spans the entire outfield was a part of a large renovation in 2013. There is also a party deck in the left field corner for large groups. To distract kids that aren’t interested in the game there is a large fan plaza behind the first base grandstand with multiple games to entertain the kiddos.
Best Spot for Beer: One thing is for sure, you won’t go thirsty at a Pirates or Marauders games. There is the Kona Brewing Co. Bar in center field and the Yuengling Plaza bar behind the right field bleachers. However, your best bet might be the The Craft Beer Korner. This concession stand is tucked behind the third base grandstand and has a fridge full of local and craft cans and bottles.
LECOM Park/McKechnie Field has gone through numerous renovations to get it to where it is today. However, it has kept the charm of a historic ballpark while incorporating the new aspects. Luckily games are played here more then just in Spring Training.
Rating: Grand Slam
Brewery Basics: Lots of different elements combine to make this one magical place.
Motorworks grabs you right from the start. The concrete floors reflect red glass lighting by the bar, and the blue ceiling lights are interspersed with paper star lights in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are lots of different seating options; hi-tops with surfboard shaped tables, traditional low top tables, a long bar and even stadium seating facing one huge projection tv.
Before committing to a seat, go out back and check out their outside section, which could give Alice’s Wonderland a run for its money. There’s a huge tree in the center, and twinkling Italian lights all around. Grassy areas and a deck with all kinds of creative seating, where couples and groups enjoy their drinks while they play Cornhole (Bags for you midwesterners) on one of the largest courses we’ve ever seen, sit by a fire, or listen to the music being piped through the big speakers.
And like the varied decor, Motorworks has something for everyone. Along with all of the outside activities, there are darts, Golden Tee, plenty of TVs and board games, an area where the band plays, free freshly popped popcorn and even wine and other guest taps on the menu. We of course stuck to their own line of craft beers and our night included:
Grapefruit Bizarre Gardening Accident (5.2% ABV) – Very pale, faintly yellow in color; smells lilke grapefruit. Tangy and slightly sour upfront with a sparkly, dry back. Light and refreshing, more like a sparkling wine than a radler or shandy.
Blueberry Coffee Saison (7.7% ABV) – On first blush, it sounds like those flavors wouldn’t really go together, and in all honesty, they don’t. This saison was our only miss of the beers we tried at Motorworks. The aroma is off-putting from the start. The coffee mixes strangely from the fruit and produces a bouquet that smells like cleaner. True to the name you get a light coffee front and a fruity finish in this yellow colored beer.
Short Shift Scotch Ale (9% ABV) – Sweet and malty upfront with a caramel finish, and a deep caramel/amber color to go along with it. White sticky lacing covers the top and the cherry woodsmoke you get in the aroma is also notable at the end of a sip.
Midnight Espresso (6.5%ABV) – Dark black lacing on glass, but no head. Smells of malts and coffee, takes like sweetly creamed – and sugared – drip coffee. Really reminiscent of a good cold brewed iced coffee. You could easily forget there is alcohol in this one.
Pumpkin Ale (6.7% ABV) – So yeah, we visited in April and they still had some of last fall’s Pumpkin Ale, but Gillian likes Pumpkin beers and it was clearanced priced, so why not? In true pumpkin ale fashion it was a pretty orange, fall color and smelled sweet and pumpkiny, the palate has an even pumpkin/spice balance. They’d added a hint of mint, which we weren’t sure we would like, but though you could smell it faintly, it really didn’t affect the taste. This could be that the mint had mellowed in the time since brewing, so you might have a very different opinion if you get it fresh.
1014 9th St West
Bradenton, FL 34205