The Atlanta Braves will enter into exclusive negotiations on the terms of a new Sarasota County spring training complex in North Port to replace Champion Stadium and Disney’s Wide World of Sports in 2019.
The negotiations, announced today, comes after more than a year of talks with three Florida counties — Collier County to the south, Palm Beach County to the east and Sarasota County to the west — about a new spring-training camp. Collier County rejected the team’s overtures late last year, however, and although some in Palm Beach County saw hope that the Braves would settle on a Lake Worth site, the decision to move forward with Sarasota County and North Port was announced by the team today.
North Port is in the southern park of Sarasota County. Despite being part of the Sarasota-Bradenton MSA, North Port is much close to Port Charlotte (11 miles or so) than Sarasota (34 miles or so). That puts Port Charlotte’s Charlotte Sports Park, spring home of the Tampa Bay Rays, less than 10 miles from North Port. (The Baltimore Orioles train at Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium.) The team has been looking at the West Villages area of North Port, with direct access to U.S. 41 and West Villages Parkway.
“We appreciate the patience of all parties during this process,” said Braves Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk said in a press release released by Sarasota County. “This is the perfect location for our team and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of Sarasota County and West Villages.”
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