Atlanta Braves consider Sarasota Co. spring training site

- The future home of Atlanta Braves baseball spring training could be in Sarasota County.

Sarasota County has gone public about talks with the team and proposals to build a spring training facility in the West Villages, which sits in the southern part of the county.

The proposal includes training facilities, practice fields and a 7,500-seat stadium on a 100-150 acre site near US 41 and West Villages Parkway. It would sit next to the State College of Florida's Venice campus.

Sarasota County's director of Business and Economic Development, Jeff Maultsby said having a Major League Baseball presence would continue the county's goal of becoming a sports tourism destination.

"If we were able to bring an iconic brand to join the one we have in the Atlanta braves the benefits could be exponential," Maultsby said, adding the process was at the "half way point."

A move from their current Digs in Orlando would bring the Braves closer to several other major league teams that call the bay area home in the spring. The team was in talks with Pinellas County regarding Toytown, but a plan never came to fruition. 
Sarasota County officials say the Braves is doing its due diligence, looking for a new facility. Maultsby said the organization reached out to Sarasota for the proposal. 
"This is really becoming a baseball corridor along us 41 and I-75," West Villages Marketing Coordinator Sondra Guffey said ."This is exciting because it's bringing jobs. It would bring a destination location to this area and give us one more reason to visit." 
Officials are already talking money, proposing use of state and county funds to pay for some of the build. However, Maultsby said they aren't rounding third base just yet, admitting there's still a lot more work to be done.

"I've been through this process before; cautiously optimistic. We'll respect the process and see where it leads us," said Maultsby.

Commercial developers were also working to develop the Marketplace at Coastamar in West Villages, which will include shopping, restaurants and entertainment. It's planned to open in 2018.

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