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Pinellas County Advances Blue Jays’ Spring Training Upgrades

Florida Auto Exchange StadiumFollowing a vote on Tuesday, Pinellas County is moving forward with discussions for upgraded Toronto Blue Jays spring training facilities.  

The proposal on the table calls for the Blue Jays to remain at Dunedin, where the team would utilize an overhauled Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and receive renovations to the off-site Bobby Mattick Training Center. Estimated at a cost of $81 million, the project would be funded by the Blue Jays, along with public dollars from the State of Florida, Pinellas County, and City of Dunedin.

On Tuesday, the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners moved forward with discussions for its contribution, which calls for $46.5 million from the its Tourist Development Council bed tax. The vote does not finalize funding for the proposal, but means that the county will continue to consider the spring training upgrades and other projects. More from The Tampa Bay Times:

Commissioner Dave Eggers, a former Dunedin mayor, said he didn’t understand why the projects needed to return for final approval since they had already been vetted by Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

“It’s a good time to give some indication how we feel,” Eggers said. “I’m a little confused on this process.”

But [board chair Janet] Long said the commission would lose leverage in future negotiations if it granted final approval Tuesday.

County administrator Mark Woodard said the Tourist Development Council recommended the projects move forward and asked the commission for direction so staffers could start negotiations for the projects.

Among them: $26 million for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium; $6 million for the American Craftsmen Museum in St. Petersburg; nearly $5 million for Ruth Eckerd Hall; and another $2.5 million for two sports complexes in Clearwater.

The Blue Jays have trained in Dunedin since their inaugural season in 1977. Their current agreement with Dunedin runs through this year.

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