ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves have received final approval for a new spring training complex near Sarasota, Florida.
The team plans to break ground next month after city commissioners in North Port voted 3-2 Tuesday to approve the $100 million complex, which was initially estimated to cost $75-80 million.
The facility is set to open in 2019, meaning the Braves will spend one more year at their current Disney World complex where they have trained since 1998. The team said it needed a new facility closer to other Grapefruit League sites, which are now largely bunched along the Gulf Coast and in South Florida. The Detroit Tigers' facility in Lakeland is the only one within an hour's drive of Disney World.
The Braves' new facility will be near the Baltimore Orioles' complex in Sarasota and Tampa Bay Rays' facility in Port Charlotte. It will be less than an hour's drive from Fort Myers, where both the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins train, as well as the Pittsburgh Pirates complex in Bradenton.
According to financing documents, Florida taxpayers will provide about $40.4 million toward the project, plus interest. A private developer will contribute $4.7 million, with the Braves picking up the remaining $55.5 million. The team expects to offset some of its costs by selling naming rights to the 8,000-capacity stadium.