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Dunedin, Blue Jays continue spring-training talks

Toronto Blue JaysThe Toronto Blue Jays and the city of Dunedin continue talks over a new spring-training complex or a renovated Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, as the team outlines proposed changes.

Right now Toronto has perhaps the most basic training facilities in the Grapefruit League: the ballpark and the training facility are some four miles apart, and Florida Auto Exchange Stadium has few of the amenities fans expect in spring training, like shade and premium areas. That situation led the Blue Jays to seek out a new spring complex with the Washington Nationals; when that effort fizzled, the Blue Jays turned back to Dunedin for potential upgrades to the current situation or even a new ballpark/training complex. In fact, city officials have identified a potential site a mile east of Florida Auto Exchange Stadium for a new training complex.

New Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski has already met with Blue Jays officials about spring training plans, but the city agreed to a confidentiality agreement with the team over negotiations, a move allowed under state law. From Tampa Bay Times:

On Nov. 7, roughly 72 hours after winning the election, Bujalski took team president Paul Beeston and Blue Jays attorney Matthew Shuber up on their offer to fly here and discuss plans for either a new or remodeled stadium.

“It was the meeting we were all waiting for,” Bujalski said. “Overall, I feel very confident.”

The Jays and the city brought in separate architects to draw up conceptual blueprints. As of August, Dunedin officials said they had been waiting about five months for the Jays to submit in writing a list of desired facility upgrades and cost estimate that the city can use to seek financial assistance from the county and state.

There could be state money available for any project: an expansion of state funding for sports facilities was designed for cities to keep spring training.

RELATED STORIES: Dunedin focuses on a new Blue Jays spring training site; Blue Jays: Let’s price out spring-training upgrades in Dunedin; Could Blue Jays bail on Astros spring-training plans?

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