Pirates will own new Bradenton club


Some of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates — such as the low-A State College Spikes and Double-A Altoona Curve — are owned by private investors.

However, the Pirates will become the sole owners of their Class A club when they purchase the Sarasota franchise from the Cincinnati Reds and relocate it to Bradenton, Fla.

“Many, but not all, of the (Class A) Florida State League clubs are owned by major league clubs,” Pirates president Frank Coonelly said Thursday. The reason, Coonelly explained, is that many FSL teams use their parent clubs’ spring training sites as their home fields.

FSL president Chuck Murphy said the league will vote Nov. 10 to approve the Pirates’ plan.

“I don’t expect any problems (with the vote),” Murphy said.

The Pirates’ new Class A team will play at McKechnie Field. Two years ago, the city of Bradenton helped pay up the tab for several renovations at the ballpark, including the installation of lights. Without those lights, it would be impossible for the ballpark to play host to a slate of 70 home games in a Class A season.

In essence, the Pirates and Reds are swapping their high-A teams. The Reds will become the parent club with Lynchburg, which is ending a 15-year affiliation with the Pirates.

The Pirates have been trying for years to get a minor league club in Bradenton.

“The biggest advantage is, we’ll have our high-A team where the hub of our development (program) is located,” Coonelly said.

The new Class A team will not be called the Pirates. The team nickname will be revealed during a Nov. 11 press conference in Bradenton.