The Philadelphia Phillies are developing plans for a major $300-million overhaul to their Clearwater training complex, including BayCare Ballpark upgrades and state-of-the-art player development technologies at the Carpenter Training Complex.
Team officials have not gone public with any specifics, a highly tentative price tag will likely end up being trimmed down once some specific costs are pinned down, and a funding/financing plan has not been released. Still, as far as plans ago, this one is pretty audacious in terms of scope and potential impact.
We do know some specifics, as the team has met with Clearwater officials and presented an outline of the plan. Clearwater owns BayCare Ballpark and the Carpenter Training Complex, and Pinellas County’s bed tax would be a big part of any funding plan. (The bed tax being used for spring training is not unusual: $41.7 million of bed tax money was used to fund renovations to TD Ballpark and an overhaul of the Toronto Blue Jays’ training complex. The budget for that project: $108 million. The bed tax has also been mentioned as a possible funding source if the Tampa Bay Rays end up with a new St. Petersburg ballpark.) The team’s lease at BayCare Ballpark and the Carpenter Training Complex both ends in 2023, but as of now the team is focusing on improvements at those facilities.
The renovations would see the Phillies move all player-development staff and facilities to Clearwater, expanding facilities while perhaps adding a player dorm to the mix. (This would be similar to what the Minnesota Twins did in Lee County in setting up a year-round training complex, but in this case the team paid for the new player dorm.) We have also seen other teams commit year-round training complexes in the midst of spring camp upgrades. From the Tampa Bay Times:
John Timberlake, Phillies director of Florida Operations, did not answer an email question about the $300 million estimate. However, he said the Phillies ownership “has considered the potential of building a state-of-the art training facility that would possibly also include major improvements to Carpenter Complex as well as BayCare Ballpark.”
“There have been several iterations of these proposed concepts over the past couple of years in an ongoing effort to meet the needs of the organization in Florida, both now, and for many years to come,” Timberlake said. “To say that we have anything more than plans that are conceptual in nature would be an overstatement.”
The Phillies have sought upgrades to BayCare Ballpark several times in recent years, including a 2019 plan that also included county bed taxes:
The Phillies and the City of Clearwater are pitching a $79.9-million plan to upgrade spring training facilities, including Spectrum Field and the adjacent Carpenter Complex. While a $10 million contribution from the Phillies and $16 million from the city factor into the project’s funding plan, a major component in the current framework is a proposed $40 million in Pinellas County Tourist Development Council (TDC) funds. Rounding out the financing plan is $13.7 million from a state fund designated for keeping Grapefruit League teams in Florida.
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