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Braves exploring spring move to North Port

Posted at 9:57 AM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-08 10:06:36-05

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- The Altanta Braves have notified Sarasota County of their intention to include the North Port area as a possible relocation site for their spring training operations.

The Braves, who currently hold spring training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, are exploring new options after the two other teams closest to their facility have plans to move.

The Houston Astros, currently training in Kissimmee, and the Washington Nationals, currently training in Viera, both have plans to move to Palm Beach County next season.

The Braves say they're considering several Florida locations, including Sarasota County, where they're considering a site in the West Villages Improvement District.  The site is located south of Tamiami Trail and west of River Road, between North Port and Venice.

A move to North Port would place the team at a key central location among several other teams currently training in Port Charlotte (Tampa Bay Rays), Fort Myers (Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins), Sarasota (Baltimore Orioles), and Bradenton (Pittsburgh Pirates).

The move could happen as soon as Spring 2018.

Initial discussions suggest the West Villages Improvement District would bond and oversee the construction, with Sarasota County participating in the funding.  The county would own the stadium, and the Braves would sign a long-term lease of 30-years.  The county and the Braves would both contribute improvement funds.

The Braves have recently been talking with St. Petersburg about a possible move there, but talks have cooled off.  There is also talk of them returning to West Palm Beach, where they trained from 1962 to 1997.