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Dunedin reaps benefits of Blue Jays' presence

Editor's note: The following letter was printed on Friday's opinion page, but the name of the writer was mistakenly deleted. We are reprinting it in full here.

Re: It's time Dunedin said no to Blue Jays' demands, letter to the editor, Nov. 2.

This letter blaming the Toronto Blue Jays for the cancellation of this year's Oktoberfest was the straw that broke the camel's back. I feel that I need to reply.

I have been coming to Dunedin since the fall of 1976. County Road 1 and Main Street were two lanes, Solon Avenue was not paved (as I recall), and my present home was an orange grove.

The Blue Jays have been a definite presence in this community since the spring of 1977. Many groups and organizations have benefited from their presence here.

To begin with, every year the Little League teams of all ages have used the fields at the Englebert Complex. The Jays have paid for the maintenance of these fields and have supplied the personnel to be at the fields for these games. On a rare occasion, one field or the other has needed to be shut down for fertilizing. The Blue Jays organization does not need these fields during the summer but nevertheless maintains them for the benefit of the youth of Dunedin. How many high school teams can boast of using a Major League ball field as their home field? The facility is again maintained and staffed by the Jays, at no cost to the high school, for their regular games and tournaments.

Other youth organizations also have use of the facilities. The Scouts have an annual sleepover at Dunedin Stadium at no expense to them. The Blue Jays provide the support staff for the overnight event and even cook breakfast for them in the morning.

There are camp days in the summer when the local summer camps bring their young charges to the ball park for free.

The Jays have contributed without fail to most, if not all, special events in Dunedin, either in cash or in kind. When cities such as New York, Minnesota, Boston, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, etc., send their teams to Dunedin for spring training, their sports writers and reporters also are here sending reports back to these Major League cities, either in print or on film, of the happenings in Dunedin. ESPN and FOX NET also have been here.

Can anyone put a price on that type of free advertising or marketing for our city? How about the dollars spent dining and shopping? During the summer months, other teams from around Florida also come to our city bringing both players and staff. Next summer, the Dunedin Blue Jays will host the Florida State All Star Game, when hundreds of visitors from around our great state will be coming for three days to dine, visit, shop and watch the ball game. There are other times/ and events when the Blue Jays have been involved in our city. It would be nice to hear from some of the young ball players, coaches, and parents who have watched their kids play on the fields, as well as others who have benefited from the Blue Jays' presence in Dunedin.

Judith Carson, Dunedin

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