A state grant worth $20 million for an Atlanta Braves spring training complex in North Port has been conditionally approved.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity gave its conditional approval to the grant on Thursday, providing a major funding source for the project. The proposed spring training complex in south Sarasota County is expected to cost between $75 million and $80 million, and most of the funding has been in place after county, city and developer approvals. The complex is expected to open in 2019, making the spring of 2018 the Braves’ last at Champion Stadium and ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Earlier this summer, The West Villages Improvement District, along with Sarasota County, the City of North Port and the Braves, filed the grant application seeking funding to help with facility construction costs.
This is the final piece of funding necessary to move the project forward. “We are pleased to have the state join the partnership of the city, county, West Villages Improvement District, Mattamy Homes and the Atlanta Braves to make this a reality,” said West Villages Improvement District Chairman Martin Black, AICP, ICMA-CM.
“We are excited to be building a state-of-the-art spring training facility in this beautiful community,” said John Schuerholz, Atlanta Braves Vice Chairman. “We have truly found some incredible partners in Sarasota County, West Villages and the City of North Port, and we look forward to training and playing there for many years to come.”
The city and county commissions and West Villages Improvement District will have final reviews scheduled for their respective meetings on Sept. 12. If all of these elected boards approve the final agreements on that date, the project’s full funding will be committed and construction can start to meet the 2019 spring training season.
“We are thankful for the state’s positive response to the Braves spring training project and its benefits to our region,” said Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer. “This is an important milestone that will allow the construction to move forward with the support of the elective bodies. We will continue to work with the team, West Villages, the City of North Port, state officials and the rest of the community as we prepare the necessary agreements to bring the Braves to Sarasota County.”