Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What a Pinellas Braves Spring Training Pitch Means for the Rays

I've been a little busy with stuff lately.

But good story by my colleagues at the Times today, Tracey McManus and Charlie Frago, who reported there's a new effort to court a third spring training team to Pinellas County. 

The proposal is one of three submitted for the humungous and conveniently-located - but environmentally troubled - Toytown complex.  And you'll recognize the names involved: Darryl LeClair, who tried to build the Rays a stadium just a few miles away; Gary Sheffield, who tried to build a spring training park in Pasco Co.; and the Atlanta Braves:
Listed as the team's architect is Populous, one of the nation's leading firms for sports architecture and the same firm that's building the Braves' new Cobb County Stadium. The proposal says the site plan can be modified to host two Major League Baseball teams for spring training, which is a trend in the sport.

The proposed complex would be much like Disney's "Wide World of Sports" complex near Orlando, where the team is under contract for one more year. That facility includes much more than baseball fields. It would include including facilities to host tournaments in a dozen sports, including basketball, soccer and swimming.

The proposal would include a 10,000-seat baseball stadium with berm seating for an additional 1,000 fans, a 15,000-seat fieldhouse for basketball or other indoor events, a track and field facility with 20,000 seats, an aquatic center with a pool and hockey rink and a 200,000-square foot dormitory that could house 800 people.
The Times reports the proposal projects annual revenues of more than $800 million...but everyone who knows anything about this stuff should still expect the venture to request county and state tax dollars anyway.
Part of the 258-page proposal is a letter from Braves president John Schuerholz to Sheffield, confirming "extensive discussions" about the proposal and "significant interest" in "exploring a partnership." The Braves are "especially interested," he writes, "given the youth sports initiative and positive impact it will provide to kids of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances." Schuerholtz said construction could begin by next year with the facility set for completion by the 2018 season.
One would think the Braves are "especially interested" anywhere tax dollars are available.

Another big question mark in this plan is whether the county would try to kill two birds with one stone by relocating the Blue Jays to Toytown as well.  Currently training in Dunedin, the team has hinted an eight-figure stadium may be necessary to keep them there.

But the biggest question mark: are county leaders willing to contribute bed tax dollars toward a new spring training complex when it would take away from potential Rays stadium funding?

FOLLOW: Shadow of the Stadium on Twitter
FOLLOW: Shadow of the Stadium on Facebook


  1. I would hope by now that the "county leaders" in Pinellas should realize the Rays aren't interested in building in their county which makes saving for it useless...

    1. They don't get it, and neither does the St. Pete city council (who are now chasing away the auto racing people). The Rays have made it perfectly clear they need a pinpoint location to be successful with the option at looking at both sides of the bay. Election day is coming up, and the vote in that one district might be the deciding factor if St. Pete lets them look in Tampa. Otherwise, they are goners. This Brave's plan won't wait for the Rays/City to settle their issues to get that tax money needed.

    2. I think they "get it", they're just slow playing the situation while making money year after year... Oh' I forgot, sports teams don't make cities money, lol...

  2. Good-bye Rays, hello ST Braves and ST Jays.....

  3. "take it to the bank" guy - well, you were right that there is a stadium announcement coming soon for the St Pete/Tampa area - just not one for the Rays! Haha....

    We all agree that the Rays will get a new stadium. The question is ultimately WHERE in Montreal will they get the spot to do it?

    1. Here is the list of the spots in Montreal:

      1. Bassin Peel
      2. Bassin Wellington
      3. Montreal Children Hospital site
      4. Molson Brewery plan site (if they moved, there's a rumor)
      5. Duke-St-Jacques-William streets
      6. Jean-Drapeau Park on Île Ste-Hélène

      Site #1 is the preferred one. Cold to the water, 1 mile from Metro Bonaventure and Central Train Station, between Old Port and Griffintown.

      So the sites are not a problem. In fact, what we heard is that the site is already chosen. This is why mayor Coderre had a very big suitcase when he met Manfred in May 2015.

    2. The Griffintown, former Bonaventure flyover, Bassin Peel is what I have heard as THE prime choice as well.... also, they'll be putting in tram service in the area seeing that it's slightly away from the metro station... As Coderre keeps saying, it's just a matter of WHEN now...

    3. and when the "mini ice age" hits in 10 years, no one is going to want to play up there.. lol

    4. Remember, "Montréal est une femme!". Montreal is a woman and has a lot of charm. Even when it's cold ... that's OK, they may decide to go in Florida for few months but they will for sure, be back just in time during spring.

  4. I'm curious about what a baseball market's saturation point is. With all of the exciting baseball played at the Trop for the last 17 years, I just crave more baseball. If we only have just 2 spring training teams in all of Pinellas County right now, shouldn't we try to have about 7 more more? I mean should we really stop at just 4 baseball franchises active in the county? I was just thinking the other day: "Ugh, there is not enough baseball here and on tv. If only there was a way for me to get even more baseball." Have we proven to ourselves that we are "major league" enough yet?

  5. The thing is, ST facilities, enjoyment factors, accessibility and AFFORDABILITY are all better with Spring Training than with MLB games - especially for Florida. Time and time again, you will see more people at ST games than regular season in Florida.

    1. Regarding AFFORDABILITY, in recent years, I have paid more for spring training tickets and for regular season games at the Trop.