Sarasota County has signed off on two agreements relating to a proposed Atlanta Braves spring training complex, allowing the planning process to move forward.
As the next key step in the process, Sarasota County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve two documents–a facilities agreement, and a non-relocation agreement. Aside from outlining several aspects of the venue–including public access, revenue, and capital maintenance–the facilities operations agreement comes with a defined project timeline. Financing for the complex must be in place by October, with construction to be completed by January 15, 2019. The non-relocation agreement, meanwhile, stipulates that the team must train at the facility through at least 2048.
Going forward, the approval of both of these documents is crucial. Several steps remain before the proposal is finalized, but Tuesday’s action allows for the pursuit of a $20 million state grant that serves as a major component of the proposed private-public funding model. More from The Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
The approved facilities agreement lays the groundwork for the West Villages Improvement District to submit the final application to the Florida Sports Foundation for a $20 million state grant needed to complete financing for the deal. The district is a special tax authority established for the 11,000-acre area to oversee major infrastructure there and is led by General Manager Marty Black, the West Villages developer who has spearheaded negotiations with the team.
Black expects to file the final application “within the next two to three weeks.” He and county leaders have been in conversations with the foundation since before negotiations with the team were even made public and expect the grant to be approved.
That will complete the financial puzzle for the planned public-private stadium deal that includes the state grant, land and infrastructure paid for by the West Villages, payments from the team, county-approved tourist tax funding and a still undecided funding source from the city of North Port.
Among the key terms of the facilities operations agreement, the Braves will keep revenue from their use of the facility as well as the sale of ballpark naming rights. It also grants Sarasota County and the City of North Port permission to host up to 10 events–20 total event days–at the complex annually.
The Braves are expected to spend the spring of 2018 at their current spring training home, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, before moving to the new facility in 2019.
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