Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Talks still on between Dunedin and Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays’ 15-year lease with Dunedin’s Florida Auto Exchange Park for spring training expires in 2017.

Canadian Press (2009)

The Toronto Blue Jays’ 15-year lease with Dunedin’s Florida Auto Exchange Park for spring training expires in 2017.

DUNEDIN — It was one step back, then one step forward Tuesday for city officials trying to broker a new spring training deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Officials awoke to news that a joint House-Senate budget subcommittee discussing a spring training proposal had touted the deal as one that would help finance a shared stadium for the Jays and Houston Astros in Palm Beach Gardens.

That came on top of frustrations that officials had spent two months unsuccessfully trying to secure a meeting with Jays president Paul Beeston. It was also the second time in as many months that the city had learned of the Jays' potential plans from the media.

But by Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Dave Eggers said he had finally spoken with Beeston and confirmed that negotiations between the Jays and Dunedin are still on. Beeston expects to visit Dunedin in the next two or three weeks.

"There have been some discussions with the east coast. There is some interest both ways ... but they are loyal to this area," Eggers said, recounting his conversation with Beeston. "He assured me he'd be down to talk about their needs and wants for the new contract period if they were to stay here."

The Jays, whose 15-year lease at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium expires in 2017, announced in a Canadian newspaper last month that they were unsatisfied with the distance between the stadium and training facilities, and were scouting opportunities for more modern digs elsewhere.

It's nearly four miles from the stadium to the training complex. Teams ideally want both in the same place.

Florida House and Senate Finance and Tax committee members working on a final round of budget negotiations agreed Monday evening to start setting aside $3.3 million a year starting in 2015 to help cities and counties woo Major League Baseball teams with new or improved stadiums.

Under the proposal, local governments would receive up to $50 million in state cash over 37½ years for ballparks that house two teams or up to $20 million for one-team facilities. Local governments would have to match the state contribution.

The state legislature will vote on the full budget next week.

Media reports said the potential deal was aimed at helping to finance a proposed stadium for the Jays and Astros, who currently train in Kissimmee. Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, said many teams are trying to move south when their leases expire to cut down on travel time.

"Two of the franchises that are looking to do a stadium down in southeastern Florida made a proposal that additional funds were necessary," Scripps Treasure Coast newspapers quoted Workman as telling committee members. After the meeting, he told a reporter who asked if the Astros-Blue Jays move to Palm Beach Gardens was a done deal, "I think so. I got that impression," he said.

However, Sen. Jack Latvala told the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday, "I definitely know it's not a done deal. They're trying to recruit a couple of teams to come to Palm Beach Gardens, but there's been no agreement made."

Neither Workman nor the Jays' Beeston returned calls seeking comment.

Brian Ballard, a Tallahassee lobbyist recently hired by the Jays and Astros to help secure state funding, stressed that Monday night's proposal wasn't aimed at any specific sites or teams, but was designed to keep or attract teams to Florida.

Ballard said he isn't involved in site selection plans for either team. Rather, his job is "to help pass a bill that would help keep a vibrant spring training system in Florida. And that's what this bill does."

He added: "Palm Beach Gardens is going to make a run at both teams. I know other locales will as well. It's a good thing to have spring training in your neighborhood, but you also have to have other teams in the area for them to play. So you're going to see competition for all these teams, as it should be."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or ksummers@tampabay.com.

Talks still on between Dunedin and Blue Jays 04/23/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 6:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  2. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

    World

    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    Minnesota Twins pitching coach Neil Allen jogs back to the dugout after paying starting pitcher Tyler Duffey a visit on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
  4. Swan sculpture deputies say was stolen by naked man found near Lakeland pond

    Crime

    A $25,000 swan sculpture that Polk County sheriff's deputies say was stolen by a naked man last weekend was found near a pond in Lakeland on Thursday.

    A swan sculpture that was stolen in Lakeland on May 19 was recovered by the Polk Sheriff’s Office on Friday.
  5. Mayor Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg mayoral election is about going forward, not back

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally