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Dunedin, Toronto Blue Jays finalize 25-year deal

DUNEDIN — After two years of discussions, the city has locked in the Toronto Blue Jays to play another 25 years in the city, signing a new licensing agreement with the team last week.

The contract had to be finalized before the city could secure funding for the massive renovation project designed to keep the team here — $81 million in upgrades to the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and the training site at the Englebert Complex on Solon Avenue.

With the contract finalized, the Pinellas County Commission is expected to vote next month on whether to award up to $41.7 million in bed tax funding for the project. The Blue Jays organization has committed to $20 million.

The city also needs a letter of intent from the county before it can apply for a $13.7 million state grant. The city is budgeted to cover $5.6 million.