BRADENTON, FL - Portions of McKechnie Field just got significantly cooler. New shading material has been hung to replace the metal roofing that was removed from the first and third baseline reserved sections during the Marauders' 2011 season.
Local company Apollo Sunguard Systems is installing the awnings over the box seats on the first and third base lines. Ernesto de Oliveira, Director of Engineering and Product Design for Apollo, said the thick green sheets are ideal for protection from the sun.
"Ultra-violet is usually what we're concerned about," Oliveira said. "This type of fabric is optimal for providing shade and UV protection."
The metal ceilings that formerly occupied McKechnie had to be removed because of corrosion. The removal forced two Marauders home games to be relocated to Port Charlotte.
Trevor Gooby, Senior Director of Florida Operations for the Pittsburgh Pirates, said the organization is pleased with the awnings in terms of both design and functionality.
"It's a great product," Gooby said. "We're really happy with the quality of it and the protection it's going to give to our fans."
Apollo has installed similar awnings for several other teams. Oliveira said several teams have realized the positive effect the added shade has on visitors' experience at a ballpark.
"More important than the product itself is the fact that the Pirates recognize the importance of safety and comfort for their biggest asset, their fans," he said.
Apollo Sunguard Systems is based in Sarasota. The Pirates strive to utilize the service of local companies, and improvements to McKechnie Field have provided several opportunities to work with local partners.
"We wanted to use a local company here in Bradenton-Sarasota," Gooby said. "Our architects, Fawley-Bryant Architects found this company. They've done some tremendous work on some other stadiums."
The awnings are a temporary measure. Construction of a new, permanent roof is planned for this year. Funding for the renovation was recently approved by city and county governments. Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2012 and should be completed in early 2013.
McKechnie Field begins its 89th season March 4th when the Pirates play their first home spring training game versus the Blue Jays. The Marauders open Florida State League play April 5th against the St. Lucie Mets.
Single game tickets for Spring Training are available by calling 877-893-2827. Group sales and season tickets for Spring Training and the Marauders' season are available by calling 941-747-3031.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.