Dunedin moved forward in its effort to retain Toronto Blue Jays spring training on Thursday, when its City Commission approved a 25-year license agreement.
The Blue Jays are working with Dunedin, Pinellas County, and the State of Florida on renovations to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and the off-site Englebert Complex. In the financial framework, the Blue Jays will contribute $20 million net present value. Pinellas County is expected to allocate $41.7 million in hotel tax revenue, while the City of Dunedin will pay $5.6 million, and Florida Department of Economic Opportunity could cover the balance of the project’s cost in the form of a grant that will be paid out $1 million annually over 20 years ($13.7 million net present value).
From here, the proposal will have to go through some crucial steps. Pinellas County still has to approve its funding contribution, with a vote possible in December. Once the county commitment is in place, the parties can request the state’s share of the project.
As part of the upgrades, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium would be modernized to feature some of the amenities found at other Grapefruit League parks. The ballpark would be equipped with a 360-degree concourse and 6,000 fixed seats, with standing room, berm, and alternate seating spaces bringing the overall capacity to 8,500.
If the project is finalized, the Blue Jays would remain in Dunedin for another 25 years. The Blue Jays have a long tradition in Dunedin, as the team has trained there since its inaugural season in 1977. Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is also the home of the Dunedin Blue Jays (High A; Florida State League).