Make us your home page

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 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

  1. Here kitty, kitty ...


    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    Rays rookie players and staff - joined here by Alex Colome - sporting their DJ Kitty onesies before the flight to New York.
  2. Pasco residents affected by Irma invited to town hall meeting

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Representatives from Pasco County Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play host to a town hall-style meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the first-floor boardroom of the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey

    Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof during Hurricane Irma.
  3. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Clearwater man shot, seriously injured


    CLEARWATER — A shooting Sunday morning in unincorporated Clearwater left one man seriously injured, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

  5. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)