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Orioles, Sarasota move closer on spring pact

The prospects of a Baltimore Orioles move to Sarasota for spring training brightened significantly last week when the team agreed to a reduced budget and offered $5 million toward maintenance toward a new complex.

The Orioles are still sticking with the idea of replacing Ed Smith Stadium, the current spring home of the Reds, with a new facility. But the reduced budget may make it easier for county tourism officials to pledge 1 percent in tourist-tax revenue for the baseball complex.

The Sarasota Chamber of Commerce estimates the move of the Baltimore Orioles and the establishment of a Ripken Baseball Academy would create 700 jobs and generate $52 million in the local economy. By comparison, a market study indicated a move of the Boston Red Sox to Sarasota would have created $46 million in local spending. Why the difference? The baseball academy, which can be run year-round, as opposed to the six weeks of tourism generated by spring training.

The deal could be wrapped up as early as the end of the week.

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