Braves in exclusive talks to bring team to North Port for spring training

Posted at 10:52 PM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 06:37:01-05

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- The Atlanta Braves are negotiating right now to bring more spring training baseball to Southwest Florida.

They would build a new complex near the West Villages in North Port.

"It just has some finalizing that needs to go through in the process. It would mean that they would see their Braves play here in West Villages in south Sarasota County in spring training starting 2019," said Sondra Guffey, the West Villages marketing manager.

Right now the land behind the barbed wire is filled with wide open spaces, trees, and cows. The team, county, and City of North Port have to figure out costs before construction crews force the cattle to roam.

"Money talks and we need to figure out who is paying for what, when, and where," said Josh Taylor, a spokesman from the city.

The money will come from a combination of state funds and tourist bed taxes. West Villages also will throw some additional cash and about eighty acres.

The City of North Port more than likely is going to have to come up with funds to pitch in and make this deal work," said Taylor.

West Villages thinks the project will end up being a cash cow for Southwest Florida.

"We do have a commercial planned in the area as well, shopping, restaurants, some entertainment so this will be a thriving urban core," said Guffey.

She says road improvements and the creation of new roads will help prevent the area from getting too crowded.

"People aren't going to be going through neighborhoods, we are not going to be driving down your street. This is something that will be kept separate," said Guffey.

On Tuesday the City of North Port will have a meeting with the city manager to see whether they want to continue to negotiate the deal.