Braves in negotiations to move spring training to Sarasota County

Braves in negotiations to move spring training to Sarasota County

Atlanta Braves fans likely won't have to drive to Orlando to watch their team in spring training action much longer.

They will be joined in the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches by the Houston Astros, who previously trained in Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee.

The team announced on Wednesday that Sarasota County is the destination for the team's new spring training complex, and the team is in exclusive negotiations with the county and its partners at the West Villages.

In March 2016, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners authorized administrator Tom Harmer to negotiate with the Braves, and in June the team asked for more time to continue the discussions.

The team has decided it will train in Sarasota County starting in 2019, according to a press release issued by the county and team officials.

"We appreciate the patience of all parties during this process", McGuirk said in the official release.

"This is the ideal location for our team and we couldn't be more excited to be part of Sarasota County and West Villages", McGuirk said.

Once the Braves make the move, the closest spring training to Daytona Beach will be Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. The city would also play a role in the negotiations and eventual construction should the project be approved. Practice fields and multi-use fields would cover the southern and eastern portions of the 70 to 75 acres.

"We're in the center of all the teams on the West Coast of Florida". "This is the ideal location for our team".

The new facilities would be in North Port in south Sarasota County, specifically within the West Villages master-planned community.

County officials say with the Tampa Bay Rays training just to the south in Charlotte County and the Baltimore Orioles training in Sarasota, the addition of the Braves will boost sports tourism in the region and the economy in North Port.

The team and the county will be working over the next several months to finalize the terms and move forward with the project. By June of past year, the discussions were showing signs of promise, the county said. They and Black will ask the North Port City Commission to formally authorize city staff to negotiate with the team over the agreement details, as county officials did early previous year.

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