One of the great names in spring training is going away, as the Pittsburgh Pirates are selling naming rights to McKechnie Field, with the result being a new moniker of LECOM Park.
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) committed to a 15-year naming-rights deal for the spring home of the Pirates and the regular-season home of the Bradenton Marauders (High A; Florida State League).
LECOM is billed by the Pirates the nation’s largest medical college and, with Millcreek Community Hospital and the clinical practices of Medical Associates, forms America’s only osteopathic Academic Health Center. With campuses in Erie and Greensburg, Pa., as well as Bradenton, LECOM shares in the Pirates commitment to both Western PA and the City of Bradenton, making the educational institution a natural partner with the Pirates in Bradenton.
“LECOM Park is our organization’s southern home and we are proud to announce this agreement with a respected and established brand that has roots in Western Pennsylvania and has quickly become a leader in education in the Bradenton area,” said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. “LECOM shares our mission to help develop young people into highly trained professionals so that they can pursue their dreams. LECOM also shares our commitment to community and we look forward to partnering with LECOM to continue to invest in improving the lives of others in our Bradenton community.”
“The need to bring new health care professionals to Florida drew LECOM to Bradenton where we found a welcoming community spirit that included the Pittsburgh Pirates,” said LECOM President John M. Ferretti, DO. “This is an opportunity to encourage wellness and health in this community as we prepare a new generation of physicians, pharmacists and dentists to meet the growing health care needs in Florida and across the nation.”
In addition, the Pirates announced the recently constructed home clubhouse at LECOM Park will now be known as the Bill McKechnie Home Clubhouse to continue to recognize and honor the Pittsburgh-area native, former Bradenton resident and Hall of Fame manager Bill McKechnie. In 2015, the Pirates opened the newly renovated one-story 22,500-square-foot clubhouse as part of a major capital improvement project to LECOM Park.
LECOM Park has hosted Pirates spring training every year since 1969. It’s also served as spring home of the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals, opening in 1923. It was named for Bradenton resident and MLB player/manager Bill McKechnie, who retired there after a Hall of Fame career that saw him win pennants with three different teams.