NORTH PORT — The Atlanta Braves may be moving their spring training operations to North Port in south Sarasota County.
The team is negotiating terms with Sarasota County and the developers of the West Villages for the funding, design and construction of a spring training facility in the commercial core of the West Villages community, according to a statement. The proposed property, southwest of the intersection of U.S. 41 and River Road, includes training facilities, practice fields and a 7,500-seat stadium, the statement says.
“The opportunity to provide the Braves with a world class home for spring training matches our desire to create an intergenerational destination focused on an active lifestyle to make this possible,” says Martin Black, general manager of West Villages, in the statement.
The Braves currently hold their spring training operations at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. A move to North Port would bolster Sarasota County's reputation as a sports tourism destination, says Jeff Maultsby, director of business and economic development for the county.
If a deal is reached, the county would be required to contribute tourist development tax dollars via a bond to cover construction costs, according to the Sarasota Observer, sister paper of the Business Observer. Sarasota County Commissioners will discuss allowing staff to move forward with talks about the proposal during a meeting today. “The team has indicated the site is acceptable and they are interested in advancing negotiations toward a potential agreement,” Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer wrote in a memo.
West Villages is a 10,000-acre live, work and play development in south Sarasota County. The community is being developed in partnership with Mattamy Homes, the largest privately owned homebuilder in North America.