Wednesday, February 27, 2013

UPDATE: Gov. Scott's Plan to Bolster Grapefruit League

Even though there's probably a way to keep Spring Training teams in Florida without forking over big-time subsidies, Governor Rick Scott and key legislators want to make more public money available for stadium upgrades.

As reported on Shadow of the Stadium yesterday, the Governor wants the legislature to approve $5 million in annual incentives to improve Florida stadiums.  But today we learn the money would be contingent upon a 50% match from local governments, meaning at least $10 million a year in public dollars will be committed to spring training facilities.

According to a Florida Sports Foundation spokesperson, the governor's concern is apparently over the Tigers', Blue Jays', and Astros' leases that expire in 2016, and the Nationals' and Braves' leases that expire in 2017.  It's tough to imagine the Tigers, Jays, Nats, or Braves leaving Florida, but the Astros would be the most likely to jump to Arizona.

And yes, Spring Training is a huge economic driver in Florida and state contributions to stadiums would be capped at $20 million per project.   But it's another example of how Major League Baseball (and its $7.5 billion annual revenues) has convinced public officials it needs help.

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