A new spring-training facility for the Atlanta Braves won’t be ready until 2019 at the earliest, as the team negotiates with Disney to keep spring operations at Champion Stadium and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports through 2018 after efforts to land a new facility take longer than anticipated.
The team has been negotiating for a new ballpark in Palm Beach County or Sarasota County, but has failed to reach any sort of final agreement. And with the clock winding down on the time needed to arrange financing for and the design of a new spring-training complex, the Braves made the obvious choice: to put off a potential offering until 2019. The decision was made easier by Disney agreeing to discuss a one-year extension of the Champion Stadium lease, which was set to expire after spring training 2017. Probably the right move, considering the Braves are already tackling a new ballpark opening in 2017, when SunTrust Park debuts. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“We’re now focusing on 2019,” said Braves vice chairman John Schuerholz, who is leading the team’s search for a new spring home. “It’s moving slowly enough that we have to adjust, and our target for a new facility is 2019.”…
So the Braves recently had a “substantive conversation” with Disney officials, Schuerholz said, about a one-year extension that would keep the team training there in 2018.
“We feel like there’s a real reasonable chance — we’re hopeful — we can do something with Disney to extend for another spring, even though there will be no teams near us to play,” Schuerholz said. “We’ll just have to live with that, as we will next spring — 2017 — because with the Astros and Nationals moving out, it’ll just be the Tigers nearby.”
Note that the deal to stay at Disney is far from a done deal. Disney World, of course, is a zoo during March, especially during spring break, and the presence of the Braves doesn’t necessarily add to the bottom line for the multimedia giant. But it’s all about relationships in this modern world of media and sports.
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