LEADOFF: Sarasota County OKs funding for Braves spring facility

Good morning. This is LEADOFF, the early buzz in Atlanta sports.

The Braves' plan to build a spring-training complex in southwest Florida took another step forward Tuesday when Sarasota County approved its portion of financing for the project.

The Sarasota County board of commissioners voted unanimously to reallocate some revenue from an existing local tourism tax, collected from hotel guests, to cover annual debt service on bonds that will be issued to fund the county’s $21.3 million share of the construction cost.

The spring facility, which the Braves hope to open in 2019, is slated to be built in the Sarasota County city of North Port. Several more governmental approvals are required.

The total cost is projected at about $75 million, to be funded by Sarasota County, the state of Florida, North Port, the Braves and a private developer. In all, the deal includes more than $40 million in taxpayer money.

Still pending: completion and approval of final definitive contracts and approval of funding by the state of Florida and North Port.

The Sarasota County commission in February approved the key terms of the deal. And North Port city commissioners did likewise in early March. Both groups expressed a desire for some tweaks in final agreements.

For more on Tuesday's vote, see the Sarasota Herald-Tribune's report from the county commission meeting.

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