Pirates unveil new spring clubhouse facilities

Pirates unveil new spring clubhouse facilities

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates put the "big" in big league with their new clubhouse facilities at McKechnie Field.

Unveiled Tuesday night to media and invited dignitaries, the 22,500-square-foot edifice beyond the right-field corner represents about a 50-percent expansion of the previous accommodations and introduces numerous state-of-the-art features.

The Bucs' Spring Training base since 1969 received a $6.5 million facelift, centered by a plush, spacious locker room area and functional spaces that simply were nonexistent previously.

A separate coaches' dressing room, a 56-seat classroom ringed by big-screen televisions, office space for team officials, a media conference room and a gourmet kitchen and dining areas are among the new creature comforts.

The walls connecting clubhouse areas are adorned with beguiling murals picturing and chronicling Pirates history. Running the length of the clubhouse ceiling are Roberto Clemente's immortal words in Pirates gold lettering, "When I put on my uniform I am the proudest man on Earth."

The trainers' area includes a separate chamber with a whirlpool and hot-and-cold dip pools, and the mirrors-ringed exercise room is a "mini" version of the new $1.5 million performance center at the Pirate City Spring Training complex.

"The training staff will want to replicate this training facility in PNC Park. That's how good this is," said club president Frank Coonelly, who led a media tour of the new accommodations before welcoming guests.

Standing behind a plexiglass lectern in the middle of the clubhouse, Coonelly told the dignitaries that included Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, "I am standing in what I believe is the finest clubhouse in any Spring Training facility."

Some Buccos players shuttled over from Pirate City to check out the digs for themselves, and were duly blown away. If you think the Major Leaguers were impressed, consider the future reactions of McKechnie Field's regular-season tenants.

"The Bradenton Marauders," Coonelly said with a broad smile, "will have the finest clubhouse in Class A Advanced, I've got to believe."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.