Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wiregrass fields developer eyes spring training, talks with MLB teams

WESLEY CHAPEL — The developer of a Wiregrass area sports complex says he is talking with owners from two Major League Baseball teams about holding spring training games at the proposed site.

James Talton, owner of Blue Marble Strategic, said that in late January he contacted four baseball teams about relocating to the proposed Wiregrass site and has since held "active talks" with the owners of two of those teams.

"I've had good productive phone calls," Talton said Friday. "There was enough interest to set up face-to-face meetings with (the owners). I had one today and will have one next week."

Talton declined to identify the teams or owners to avoid jeopardizing the discussions, which he described as preliminary.

"I don't want to distract from the negotiations," he said.

The move comes as Florida has upped its commitment to spring training in the wake of six Major League teams — the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers — moving their spring training games to Arizona since 1998.

Gov. Rick Scott last year signed a law pledging $20 million in state funding for new stadiums to keep more Major League teams from fleeing.

Two teams are most at risk to leave: the Toronto Blue Jays, who play in Dunedin, and the Houston Astros, who play in Kissimmee. The Blue Jays are seeking a new stadium and the Astros are in talks with Palm Beach Gardens.

So far the negotiations with Talton and the owners have not involved county officials.

Pasco Commission Chairman Jack Mariano described the prospect of landing spring training as "exciting."

"People are in discussions and hopefully something will happen," he said.

Commissioners signed a contract with Talton in mid January to develop the 120-acre Wiregrass site into a complex of 17 fields, including a 2,100-seat stadium that could be reconfigured to seat 10,000.

The county agreed to provide $11 million in tourism development funds for the project while Talton would be responsible for lining up the remaining funding, about $23 million.

Talton said he started to reach out to teams about a week after winning the contract to develop Wiregrass.

In addition to talking with team owners, Talton said he's courting college and youth leagues about holding tournaments at Wiregrass in 2016.

Rich Shopes can be reached at rshopes@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236.

Wiregrass fields developer eyes spring training, talks with MLB teams 02/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 9:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays hoping RHP Romo can regain form, help bullpen

    Blogs

     

    Sergio Romo celebrates striking out Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers to win Game Four of the Major League Baseball World Series at Comerica Park in 2012.
  2. See you later, alligator! Reptile captured off Miami Beach (w/video)

    Wildlife

    MIAMI BEACH — Police and wildlife officials captured an unwanted visitor on Miami Beach.

    An alligator was spotted swimming in the Atlantic Ocean near the South Pointe Park pier in Miami Beach on July 23, 2017. News outlets quoted viewers who said it took officials about two hours to capture the gator. No one was injured.

  3. Dog dies in hot car while owner cleans Florida condos

    Public Safety

    PANAMA CITY BEACH — Authorities say a 2-year-old Chihuahua died in a hot car while its owner was cleaning condominiums in Florida.

  4. Recipe for Nutty Quinoa Carbonara

    Cooking

    If you've never made carbonara, consider adding it to your weekday dinner lineup. It is a traditional Italian pasta dish in which eggs are mixed with cheese and then swirled into cooked pasta just before serving. The result is a luscious bowl of food you won't believe contains so few ingredients. This recipe swaps …

    Quinoa Carbonara. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  5. Trump son-in-law Kushner denies collusion with Russia (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner denied Monday that he colluded with Russians in the course of President Donald Trump's successful White House bid, declaring in a statement ahead of interviews with congressional committees that he has "nothing to hide."

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington on June 22, 2017. [Associated Press]