Dunedin official: Ex-Nielsen site 'unlikely' for new Blue Jays spring training stadium
DUNEDIN| The Toronto Blue Jays will spend at least 30 to 45 more days researching before they submit a spring training facilities wish list and cost estimate to the city, officials say.
The Jays have trained in Dunedin for 37 years, but spent several months last year exploring a deal with the Houston Astros for a two-team stadium complex in Palm Beach Gardens on Florida’s east coast — an idea later quashed by community opposition.
Team officials had cited the nearly 4-mile distance between the Dunedin practice facilities and stadium as the impetus for their search for a new spring training home.
City staff told commissioners last week that the Jays are now okay with a split-facility concept but want to add at least one full field to the stadium and more parking.
During talks between the city and Sen. Jack Latvala this spring, the 22-acre former Nielsen Media Research property at 375 Patricia Avenue emerged as a potential site for a new stadium.
However, City Manager Rob DiSpirito told the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday that “it doesn’t appear to be a real likely possibility” given the bank-owned parcel’s $7 million price tag and Wells Fargo’s ongoing negotiations with developers interested in turning the property into a mixed-use complex.
“Our main focus is to continue to try to work it out on the existing site,” he said. “But frankly until the Blue Jays meet with us again and tell us what they need and want, we’re operating somewhat in the vacuum.”
The Jays have 3 1/2 years left on their contract at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium plus two five-year renewal options.