With the decision to postpone the opening of a new spring-training camp to 2019, the Atlanta Braves have invited Collier County back into discussions for hosting the facility.
It’s been a little back and forth for the Braves, who eliminated Collier County from consideration when it became apparent a new training complex wasn’t possible in the Naples area for 2018. Since then the Braves realized 2018 would be an aggressive deadline for opening a new facility and decided to push it back to 2019.
Which puts Collier County back in the running. From the Naples Daily News:
On June 1 team Vice Chairman John Schuerholz sat down with County Manager Leo Ochs and confirmed the Atlanta Braves’ renewed interest in relocating its spring training operations in Collier County, saying it’s now willing to wait a year longer to play in a new stadium.
In a follow-up letter after the meeting, Schuerholz, a part-time Naples resident, said, “Our timeline has changed a bit in that our goal is to be in a new spring training facility for the 2019 MLB spring training season.”
The new timeline, he said, means the team would have to score “a definitive agreement with a new partner by the end of 2016 or early 2017.”
“We hope that Collier County will consider entering into further discussions with us to explore that possibility,” Schuerholz wrote.
This doesn’t mean Collier County has landed a complex or is even a front-runner; it means Collier County is welcome to put in a bid for the facility. In addition to Collier County, the Braves are also working with Sarasota and Palm Beach counties about hosting spring training.
The next step: Collier County staff will evaluate potential sites and funding methods and report back to the county commissioners, who will then decide whether to move forward with negotiations. The first attempt at identifying a site didn’t go well, when opposition from area residents forced the county and a developer to abandon their initial choice for the complex.
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