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Sarasota County to Weigh in on Braves Spring Training Agreement

Atlanta Braves Sarasota County spring complex

There could soon be a major turning point for a proposed Atlanta Braves spring training complex, as Sarasota County will weigh in on a proposed facilities operating agreement. 

Sarasota County officials are expected to discuss the proposed facilities operating agreement for the Braves next week. This would come as the county–which recently voted to borrow $22 million for its portion of the estimated $75.4 million price tag–looks to move forward with constructing the complex in North Port’s West Villages district, and inch closer to applying for a $20 million state grant to help cover construction costs.

One of the more revealing parts of the agreement is that it presents deadlines for the completion of certain tasks. In one of the most crucial components, funding would have to be secured for the project by the end of October. Furthermore, the complex must be completed in advance of spring training 2019, with January 15 of that year set as a specific target. More from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

But for the first time the agreement sets out specific dates for the project, including requirements that financing be in place by the end of October and that construction must be complete by Jan. 15, 2019, in time for the spring training season that year.

Designs for the planned stadium are underway and that timetable would ideally mean officials would break ground on construction by the end of the year, [county economic development director Jeff] Maultsby said.

The agreement also will formalize certain financial stipulations between the team and county.

The team will retain all revenues generated by its use of the stadium, but it also will pay between $2 million to $2.5 million each year toward the debt to build the stadium. The team will be required to pay for routine maintenance and will split about $11.3 million in capital improvement funding over its 30-year lease with the county.

In addition the contribution from the county and the state grant, the ballpark’s financing model also calls on funds from the Braves, the West Village developer, and North Port. The Braves are slated to continue training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex through at least 2018, and could move to Sarasota County for the spring of 2019 if this plan receives necessary approval.

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