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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Commissioners launch group effort to keep Blue Jays in Dunedin



The campaign to woo the Toronto Blue Jays to stay in Dunedin for spring training has quickly become a group effort.

The Dunedin City Commission voted 5-0 last week to immediately gather price quotes from professional negotiators, assemble a statewide group of stakeholders to offer input during negotiations, and research funding options.

To ensure the process moves along, the city will compile a list of critical target dates. Meanwhile, city officials will confer with the state and city of Clearwater on a study of the team's economic impact on Dunedin.

Meetings with Jays president Paul Beeston, who will visit the area this weekend, and Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, who chairs the Pinellas Tourist Development Council, kicked off this past weekend.

"With approximately 41/2 years remaining on our license agreement, in order to retain the Blue Jays in Dunedin, we need to use our time wisely," said parks and recreation director Vince Gizzi.

Plans hit fever pitch this month, after the Jays announced they would use the next year to scout more modern spring training facilities in other cities.

Beeston told the Toronto-based Globe and Mail that the nearly 4-mile distance between Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and the Solon Avenue training complex in Dunedin is not ideal, while the article's author criticized the stadium's crowded restrooms and souvenir shop and its lack of parking.

The Toronto Blue Jays' sudden criticism of their spring training facilities here comes on the heels of Gov. Rick Scott's announcement that state lawmakers are creating a trust fund to help pay for baseball stadium renovations to keep spring training teams in Florida.

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[Last modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 2:50pm]


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