I've previously written how the dealings had been plagued by county staffers' battles with transparency, bogus economic impact claims, and other red flags during negotiations. Fortunately, some of my warnings were heeded, but there are still items of concern that were glossed over in the rush to get a deal done, including long-term stadium maintenance, which has cost the county unexpected dollars in their dealings with the Orioles' spring training complex (you'd think they'd have learned a lesson).
The unanimous vote from county commissioners last Wednesday sets up a final vote in North Port today.
UPDATE: North Port city commissioners approved the deal, 3-2, only after a pair of commissioners voiced loud displeasure over the negotiating process ("Every single document we’ve received has been, ‘Your back’s against the wall, you better sign this or else.’ It’s a disservice to this community") and concern over the multi-purpose fields that were promised for public use. But the city attorney told commissioners they must agree to the deal without amendment.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports the project will now surpass $100 million, although the direct taxpayer contribution will remain in the $50 million range. The Braves will receive additional subsidies in the form of free rent and certain tax breaks; the team will instead contribute an annual payment toward $37.5 million in construction bonds.
The Braves will also reportedly keep proceeds from the naming rights of the public facility, which they can use to further offset construction costs.
A groundbreaking will reportedly take place next month, with the Braves looking to relocate to the new West Villages/North Port complex in Spring 2019.
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