Braves’ spring-training facility seeks $20 million grant from Florida

A preliminary rendering of a new Braves spring-training complex in North Port, Fla. (Sarasota County government)
A preliminary rendering of a new Braves spring-training complex in North Port, Fla. (Sarasota County government)

The Braves and their partners filed a grant application with the state of Florida this week, requesting $20 million in state funds to help pay for construction of the team’s planned new spring-training facility.

The grant application was submitted by the West Villages Improvement District, along with the Braves, Sarasota County and North Port.

The stadium and training complex would be built in the West Villages district of the southern Sarasota County city of North Port.

An economic impact study was filed as part of the application process. According to the study, the planned Braves facility is estimated to generate more than $1.7 billion in impact over a 30-year period.

In general, economic impact studies for sports projects tend to be hotly debated and often disputed.

“This conservative impact study shows what a dynamic impact the Atlanta Braves Spring Training Complex is going to have on North Port, Sarasota County and the region,” West Villages Improvement District chairman Martin Black said in a statement. “We know this stadium and the excitement of Major League Baseball have more than just an economic impact, it will truly touch this community for two generations or more.”

The $20 million from the state of Florida and $21.3 million from Sarasota County are key parts of the funding plan for the approximately $75 million facility. The rest would come from North Port (approximately $300,000 per year), the West Villages developer and the Braves.

Sarasota County and North Port governments have approved a series of agreements with the Braves, who have a recent history of securing taxpayer dollars for major- and minor-league stadiums. The Sarasota County Commission approved an operating agreement last month, and the North Port City Commission approved a licensing agreement Tuesday. Other agreements remain necessary before the deal is done.

If all stays on track, construction is expected to begin this fall, with completion scheduled for January 2019.

The Braves have held spring training at Disney’s Wide World of Sports near Orlando since 1998 and will train there for what is expected to be the final time in 2018.

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