SARASOTA – There’s a possibility of another Major League Baseball franchise joining the spring training group in Sarasota County.
An undeveloped area in North Port could one day be the grounds of the Atlanta Braves new spring training facilities. Sarasota County commissioners welcomed the idea voting unanimously to finalize details of a possible agreement on Tuesday morning.
The West Villages location has direct access to U.S. 41 and is adjacent to State College of Florida in Venice. Marketing Coordinator for the West Villages Sondra Guffey says the proposed campus would sit on a 150 acre site “That would be the new home for a stadium, parking lot, training facilities, dormitories, and practice fields,” said Guffey. She says the Braves’ spring training site would add to southwest Florida’s baseball corridor with the Orioles, Pirates, Red Sox, and Rays just a drive away on either Interstate 75 or U.S. 41.
Sarasota County’s Director of Business and Economic Development Jeff Maultsby says the project would greatly benefit the county’s sports tourism sector. “You look around our community at the other amenities that we have; adding this asset to that list would be tremendous in terms of what we would be able to offer from a south county perspective,” said Maultsby. He says proceeds from tourist development tax dollars would go towards retiring the debt on the stadium.
Moving forward, Sarasota County, West Villages, and Atlanta Braves representatives will negotiate terms of funding, design, and construction of a possible spring training destination.
The Braves’ operations are currently located in Orlando, but only one year remains on its lease at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.