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Planning for Braves Spring Training Complex Continues

New Braves Training Camp

Steps continue to be taken in the planning of a proposed Atlanta Braves spring training complex in North Port, with some recent developments taking place. Earlier this week, officials involved in the project completed two key tasks in the planning process.

The plan for a new Braves’ spring training complex in the West Villages development calls on funds from the Braves and the West Villages developer, as well as contributions from Sarasota County and North Port. Another key component of that funding model is a $20 million state grant, and on Monday the West Villages submitted its grant application to the Florida Sports Foundation.

The following day, North Port made another key decision in the process by signing off on its licensing agreement with the Braves. The terms of that agreement outline North Port’s right to the use complex’s ballpark for three city-sponsored events annually.

This comes at a point where the Braves and their partners in the project–including the West Villages developer, North Port, and Sarasota County–will need to finalize certain components of the plan. Currently, financing for the project is supposed to be finalized in the coming months, while construction of the complex must be completed by January 2019. Though the state’s decision on the grant, along with a few other key votes, remain in the process, officials believe that this week’s actions have helped move the project forward. More from The Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

“There are a lot of moving parts and pieces, but this certainly is a critical one,” Sarasota County Economic Development Director Jeff Maultsby told North Port commissioners late Tuesday afternoon.

Maultsby has helped lead negotiations with the team over the past two years with Marty Black, who leads the West Villages Improvement District, a special tax authority established for the 11,000-acre area to oversee major infrastructure for the development.

The district is formally overseeing the construction of the baseball complex, which will revert to county ownership once complete, so it made the formal grant application to the Florida Sports Foundation and state for eligible spring training stadium incentives. Local officials have worked with the foundation on the plan since before it was even announced publicly early last year and expect that funding to be approved after the required state reviews.

The agreement approved by the city Tuesday follows in the footsteps of the facility operating agreement struck between the county and the Braves last month, which was a crucial piece of that state grant application.

If the project is approved, the Braves would move into the complex for spring training of 2019. The Braves will spend the spring of 2018 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee.

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