The Atlanta Braves are proposing moving their spring training facility from the Orlando area to St. Petersburg, Florida. In a formal proposal submitted to officials of Pinellas County, where St. Petersburg is located, Braves president John Schuerholz noted that he hopes to reach an agreement to relocate by the end of the year. Construction of a new training facility would begin by next year, with completion scheduled for 2018.
Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer, said that the construction of a new facility would be a boon to the baseball team, which would spend less time traveling to practice space and more time on the field. “Also,” he noted, “the proposed facility includes a 10,000-seat stadium with berm seating for an additional 1,000 fans. Along with additional athletic fields and an on-site hotel, that would make the new facility a clear destination for amateur and professional sports alike.”
The Braves have trained at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, since 1998, but the team’s lease there expires in 2017. The St. Petersburg location is not the only one under consideration for the new facility, but Braves president John Scheurholz implied in a letter submitted to county officials that it is the most desirable one.
Most likely, any move the Braves make will include public financing. The Astros and the Nationals recently launched new training sites of their own, leaving the same Disney location that the Braves are leaving, and each team received a $108 million pledge in public funds from Palm Beach County, with the state pledging another $50 million toward costs of building and financing the planned facilities.