Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Stadium Costs Are Going Up

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Stadium Costs Are Going Up

Article excerpt

MCKECHNIE: Team wants more amenities, but seems willing to pay

BRADENTON -- Work has not even begun on the latest proposed renovations to McKechnie Field in Bradenton and already the price tag has risen by as much as $2.5 million.

The main reason: The Pittsburgh Pirates organization wants more improvements to the ballpark where the team plays its spring training games.

But so far, the Pirates have signaled that the team is willing to pay for the add-ons without asking the city or its taxpayers for more money.

The city of Bradenton borrowed $7.5 million and signed an agreement with the Tourist Development Council to help pay about $400,000 a year for 20 years to pay down the loan. That allowed the project to be done without property tax money, officials said.

In the original deal, the Pirates had agreed to cover any costs over $7.5 million to add more space and fan-friendly amenities at the ballpark at 1611 9th St. W.

New estimates show the final cost of the proposed improvements would be between $9.5 million and $10 million if the Pirates get their additional improvements.

"It didn't come in higher," Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston said of the initial improvements. "It's just because they wanted more amenities having to do with Major League Baseball to increase their training during spring training."

Ron Allen, president of NDC Construction, which is handling the stadium project, said some proposed improvements were taken out of the project, and how have been put back in.

"There was a master plan done and there were a lot of features at the ballpark that were initially contemplated, and through the budget it was narrowed down to those things that fit within the $7.5 million budget, and the Pirates indicated that they would like to participate in those enhancements," he said.

Trevor Gooby, senior director of Florida operations for the Pirates, said that while there was a baseball-related expense that the team wanted to see included -- mainly a batting cage -- the rest of the higher cost is for expanded seating in the outfield and new food service equipment. …

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