A proposed Atlanta Braves spring training complex was received final approval today, after a North Port Commission vote on the final development agreement.
The Braves have been working to construct a new spring training complex at the West Villages development in North Port, which is located in Sarasota County. Negotiations involving the club, Sarasota County, City of North Port, and the West Villages developer have resulted in a financial framework for the project, and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity recently committed a $20 million grant.
Securing the grant was seen as a major step toward finalizing the financial aspect of the plan, and moving forward with development. Current plans call for the Braves to spend the spring of 2018 at Champion Stadium and the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, before moving to their new facility in 2019. The project has a total budget of $100.56 million, $89.2 million of which includes construction, which is higher than a previous estimate of $75 to $80 million, but is not slated to change the public’s contribution. More from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The increased cost won’t change the amount of taxpayer money in the deal: about $40.4 million toward construction, plus interest. Sarasota County would cover $21.3 million of the construction cost, the state of Florida $14.4 million and North Port $4.7 million. (The state’s commitment is $20 million over 20 years, but that includes interest payments.)
The project’s private developer would contribute $4.7 million.
The Braves would be on the hook for the remaining $55.5 million through a combination of up-front payments (about $18 million for architectural, engineering and construction fees and costs) and annual payments over 30 years (sufficient to cover debt service on $37.5 million in bonds), according to the North Port documents.
The Braves would expect to offset some of their costs by selling naming rights.
The complex would be located on the southern end of Sarasota County. This would place the Braves closer to Port Charlotte and the spring-training home of the Tampa Bay Rays, Charlotte Sports Park, than to the northern Sarasota County spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota.
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