After Collier County commissioners voted yesterday to continue talks with Atlanta officials, we again have three Florida counties in discussions to host a new Braves spring camp.
Collier County — basically, Naples and its environs, south of Fort Myers and Lee County — had been eliminated from consideration by the Braves when the team was planning on a 2018 move to a new spring-training facility. When that 2018 deadline slipped and the team announced plans to stay at Disney’s Champion Stadium, Collier County was invited back into the mix, along with Sarasota County (where a new complex would be located in the southern part of the county) and Palm Beach County (where a new complex would be located in Lake Worth).
The vote yesterday from the county commissioners doesn’t commit Collier County to a funding plan or a new Braves spring camp location; it merely authorizes staff to engage in talks with the Braves. From the Naples Daily News:
Based on an initial proposal done by a private company in Naples, a spring training stadium could cost the county nearly $135 million in tourist tax dollars to build, finance, operate and maintain over 30 years.
The county could pay a little over $3 million a year to start, and its payments could increase yearly until more than doubling in 30 years to $6.4 million.
The state makes up to $20 million available to any county that agrees to match the funds for a single-team project and up to $50 million for two-team stadiums.
A team lease could generate $1.1 million a year, and naming rights could add another $300,000 in revenues annually, helping to support the project.
All of these terms are pretty standard when it comes to building spring-training facilities, but none of this is certain. (For instance, the state contribution is not automatic.) Still, it would be an interesting development if the Braves did indeed end up at the southernmost part of the Gulf Coast. First, you’d have a nice cluster of four teams in the greater Fort Myers area (the Twins, Red Sox and Rays already train there), which makes for easier scheduling. You’d have five teams on the East Coast: Mets, Astros, Nationals, Cardinals and Marlins. Again, a good setup for scheduling purposes. And then you’d have the remaining six teams (Orioles, Pirates, Blue Jays, Phillies, Yankees and Tigers) located between Sarasota and Lakeland.