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Dunedin mayor says 'major points' for prospective Jays contract are on track

Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski seeks closer ties with city of Toronto.
Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski seeks closer ties with city of Toronto.

DUNEDIN — After her recent trip to Toronto, Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said she is confident all of the "major points" that would make up a prospective spring training contract with the Blue Jays could be in place by season's end. Though it's important to note, she said, nothing is official.

A confidentiality agreement between the team and the city bars her from discussing any specifics, she said.

The Blue Jays, the only Major League Baseball franchise based in Canada, have trained in Dunedin since the team was born almost 40 years ago. Team officials have told the city that they would like to install a full practice field at the stadium. Currently, a four-mile stretch separates the stadium and the Jays practice facilities.

With Blue Jays President and CEO Paul Beeston slated to depart at the end of this season, Bujalski said the goal is to have the major points of a contract worked out by then.

"I feel extremely confident that we will work out a deal for a long-term contract with the Blue Jays," the mayor said. "(Touring the Toronto facilities) certainly puts into perspective the size of their organization."

Beeston could not be reached for comment.

The Blue Jays and 14 other MLB teams train in the Sunshine State. The Jays spent several months toward the end of last year considering the idea of going in on a two-team complex with the Houston Astros in Palm Beach Gardens. But the idea was met with significant community opposition.

The Jays remain a top priority for the city, Bujalski said, but her trip to Toronto also served as a means to re-establish a working relationship between the two cities. In an effort to revitalize this connection, Bujalski met with Toronto Mayor John Tory.

"Sometime in the future, if our relationship progresses, we'd like to talk about the idea of being a sister city," Bujalski said. "There's a number of Toronto businesses that would like to be in Florida."

Contact Michael Majchrowicz at mmajchrowicz@tampabay.com or at (727) 445-4159. Follow @mjmajchrowicz on Twitter.

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