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Judge: Orioles-Sarasota deal stands

A Florida circuit judge refused to strike down the contract between the Baltimore Orioles and Sarasota County for public funding of an Ed Smith Stadium renovation, saying that the deal can move forward with no changes.

Circuit Judge Bob Bennett ruled against all objections to the contract raised by Sarasota Citizens for Responsible Government and Citizens for Sunshine, saying Florida’s open-meetings law was not circumvented by the Sarasota Board of Commissions during deliberations on the deal. There were some closed e-mail exchanges, Bennett ruled, but they did not rise to the level of seeking to circumvent public input into the deal.

The deal calls for Sarasota County to pay $26 million toward the renovations of Ed Smith Stadium. The work has already begun, but Sarasota County hasn’t yet issued bonds for the project; the first work is being funded by other county monies, with the expectation they will be repaid when bonds are issued.

The first round of renovations is slated to be completed when spring training opens in February.

The total renovation of Ed Smith Stadium is slated at $31.2 million.

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