Thursday, March 27, 2014

Another record spring at McKechnie Field

Low temperatures, a steady drizzle and gray clouds did little to deter another big crowd from filling McKechnie Field as 8,134 fans took in the Pirates' final exhibition game in Florida on Thursday.
The Pirates lost 4-2, but the crowd - the seventh sellout in 12 games in Bradenton - helped establish a new average attendance record of 7,587.
The previous mark of 6,229 was set last year.
"The Pirates are humbled by the support we received this year at McKechnie Field," team president Frank Coonelly said in a statement, "from Pirates fans living in the Bradenton area and the thousands who have visited from Pittsburgh and beyond for an opportunity to watch their baseball team play in the Friendly City.
"The Pirates thank our fans and friends in Bradenton for giving us such a tremendous start to the 2014 season."
The total attendance of 91,046 wasn't enough to break the record of 93,433 set last season. Weather was the culprit - the Pirates lost three home games because of rain. Factor the in the average attendance, and McKechnie Field would have played host to over 110,000 fans had Mother Nature cooperated.
Other records did fall, however. The Pirates' home-opener this spring against the Yankees drew 6,870, a new McKechnie Field standard for the first game of the season.
The annual night game against the Baltimore Orioles was played before a crowd of 8,186, the most to watch a evening spring training game in Bradenton since lights were installed in 2008.
And on March 22 against the Philadelphia Phillies, a total of 8,566 fans passed the through the gates, the biggest crowd in the history of the 91-year-old ballpark that has served as the Pirates' southern home since 1969.
"You see it when we got to Washington, you see it when we got to Baltimore - you even see it during spring training games on the road," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "It's building. We kind of joke here that we're building Buc nation one Buc at a time, but it's starting to happen. And it's fun to watch. They're wearing the colors, they're wearing the gear, and to see the kinds branded up, that's fun to watch."


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