As you drive through South Sarasota County the construction along River Road and Tamiami Trail are undeniable signs that the Atlanta Braves are coming. After months of haggling, the City of North Port, Sarasota County, West Villages, the state of Florida, and the Atlanta Braves have ironed out the details for a multi-party venture to bring the Atlanta Braves Spring Training operation to south Sarasota County. What a victory for taxpayers when by today’s standards even one governmental agency often stumbles over its own feet to get anything done. The transaction is so successful thus far that it garnered the top regional deal of 2018, awarded by the Florida Economic Development Council.
Braves’ fans will soon be catching a whiff of hot dogs, grilled and ready to accompany an ice-cold beer during the best of Florida’s simultaneous seasons: Spring and Baseball Spring Training. And, local merchants are smelling an economic boom for their bottom lines as fans are expected to flood the area during spring training, spreading their dollars out to area restaurants, stores and mom-and-pop hotspots. The excitement is palpable as South County prepares to “Play Ball!”
What South Sarasota County has desired, in part, for its residents including a venue for families where sports is the main attraction, with plans to include a sports entertainment complex, of sorts, will be fulfilled by the relocation of the Atlanta Braves team to the North Port area to complete its Spring Training schedule. Whereas North Port has evolved to become a magnet for fast-food chains, mattress stores and discount retail outlets, it will be refreshing to have a more regional, even national draw for hard-core Braves fans. The ancillary benefits including improved roads, plans for new hotels and other popular retail chains to set root in North Port are creating a buzz of activity in Sarasota County’s largest city, which is already in full motion with increased retail and commercial development.
The new Atlanta Braves facility will include six and a half practice fields, a 55,000 square foot clubhouse and state-of-the-art training facility for players, along with several multi-purpose fields and facilities for locals to utilize. Ongoing plans include sponsorship of children’s teams and camps, musical events and a host of other community activities once the facility is fully-developed, with an anticipated completion date of Spring 2019. Hopes are for the Braves to play their last game of the 2019 Spring Training Season at the new North Port facility, also serving as the “ribbon cutting” for local community activities to begin, ahead of the 2020 Spring Training Season.
The Atlanta Braves, often referred to as “America’s Team”, are the only Major League Baseball team to have won the World Series in three different cities. The Braves and Chicago Cubs remain the National Leagues two oldest charter members. Notably, In 1974 Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record. Fans were appreciative of the recent opportunity to get a peek at the Braves’ much-anticipated training facility and plans for outlying acreage when an Atlanta Braves Spring Training Preview Center opened through this past April. Construction on the facility is on track to finish ahead of the 2020 Spring Training Season. This coming Saturday, June 16, tickets for the Atlanta Braves Spring Training schedule will be on sale at the George Mullen Center in North Port, from 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. For further information on ticket sales and general information about the Atlanta Braves, please visit www.mlb.com/braves
Photos courtesy of West Villages Florida-Season Ticket Sales Facebook page and Atlanta Braves Facebook Page.