North Port looks to future as Braves practice stadium takes shape

- Nine months ago, cows roamed a piece of land at West Villages in North Port. Today, crews work to construct a $100 million stadium.

For the next 30 years, the Atlanta Braves will call the land their new spring training home.

The location has been empty for years, but West Villages is expected to become the new downtown for North Port.

"I think it's the right thing in the right location," said Commissioner Nancy Detert. "This is great for Sarasota County, but it's an extra boost for the city of North Port. It's a signature piece that can attract other great things.”

North Port's current downtown is only made up of police and city offices. West Villages plans on building a more traditional downtown, with a market and retail center already in the works.

"We think it's important there is a downtown and for people to gather. Yes, for shopping or that type of activity, but more for dining and activity and concerts," said Paul Erhardt the President of West Villages.

When the Braves aren't using the stadium it'll be used for community activities and concerts.

"It's a place their community can be proud of. They can utilize the facility on occasion for big moments in the growth or celebration of the community," said John Schuerholz with the Braves.

As West Villages continues to grow from 5,000 to 30,000 homes, the stadium will one day become a landmark building within their community.

"We are all looking forward to the day where we turn the key, open the gate, make this our home and make this our home for the next 30 years," said Schuerholz.

The Braves hope to have construction finished by the end of next year's spring training just in time to play their last game here in North Port.

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