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Orioles say ‘no thanks’ to Sarasota — but don’t completely close the door

The Baltimore Orioles officially declined Sarasota’s offer of $30 million to renovate Ed Smith Stadium as the future spring home of the Birds, but left open the possibility to a counteroffer from the county.

In a letter sent to county officials by team attorney Alan Rifkin, the team laid out its reasons for rejecting the offer. Basically, the team is looking for a new ballpark and wants to see the same financial commitment offered several months ago to the Boston Red Sox for a new ballpark at Payne Park and a separate minor-league facility. In addition, the team wanted to see land for a Ripken Baseball Academy, an action dismissed by the county.

So where does that leave the Orioles? In Fort Lauderdale for one last year, 2010. After that, the possibilities include Fort Myers and — a long shot here — Arizona.

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