There will be no Collier County Braves spring training complex, as commissioners today rejected further negotiations on a proposed $101-million facility in southwest Florida.
The Atlanta braintrust has been openly seeking a new spring-training camp to replace the team’s current Grapefruit League home, ESPN’s Wide World of Sports and Champion Stadium at Disney World. The team identified three potential locations for a training camp — Collier County (Naples), Sarasota County (North Port) and Palm Beach County (Lake Worth) — and while there’s been varying levels of interest from various county officials, Collier County Commissioners have never been too enthused about spring training.
And that’s still true, as county commissioners say that the better investment of their resources would be in beach restoration and road construction. From the Naples Daily News:
The Braves, who have been working with the county on a proposed stadium plan since the spring, asked the county to build a $101 million stadium near Interstate 75 and Collier Boulevard. To pay for it, the county would have to borrow the money and raise its tourist tax, from 4 percent to 5 percent, to help pay down that debt….
Commissioners decided that tax money would be better spent elsewhere.
The county estimated the stadium would pump about $25 million a year into the economy, through hotel stays, restaurants, sales tax and short-term rentals from fans who would travel here for spring training.
Commissioners doubted those returns.
This leaves Sarasota County and Palm Beach County as potential homes for Braves spring-training facilities. Sarasota County officials have been a little more active than Palm Beach County officials in working to land the Braves, who are slated to leave Champion Stadium and Wide World of Sports after 2018 spring training.