Spring training complex rejected in Collier

Posted at 2:50 PM, Apr 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 06:55:41-04

NAPLES, Fla. -- A proposal to build a spring training complex for the Atlanta Braves in Collier County has struck out - at least for the site the team was considering.

The "Fifth Avenue Advisors Investment Group" was considering building the $75 million project on a piece of land near Collier Boulevard and south of Interstate 75. But commissioners voted against the this spot Tuesday.

Naples businessman Gary Price of Fifth Avenue Advisors, who has been in talks with the Braves about the possibility of moving their spring training home from the Orlando area to Collier County, told county commissioners that building the complex for the team would cost almost $80 million with a mix of private and public funds.

Commissioner Tim Nance was on board with the idea, indicating that the investment would pay off.

"We don't need any more homes," Nance said during Tuesday's commission meeting. "We need baseball in Collier County as a stimulator for outside investment in our community."

The Braves preferred a site along Collier Boulevard south of I-75 near the Forest Glen subdivision, but residents there and in surrounding communities claim that a baseball stadium would be too close for comfort.

"I don't think any of us are opposed to baseball," said Jesse Moreno, who lives in Forest Glen. "We're just opposed to the location."

"We've all worked very hard for what we have earned," he added. "We want the tranquility, the peace of mind."

Most commissioners agreed with the residents, with Penny Taylor saying that the traffic on Collier Boulevard is already bad enough.

But the board of commissioners didn't rule out bringing the Braves to the county, suggesting that Price ask the team if they would consider another location further east. He indicated that they liked the site on Collier Boulevard because of its proximity to I-75, making it easier to travel when they play other teams.

"We're certainly going to share what we've learned, and let them decide about what they want to do," Price said.

The Atlanta Braves hope to have a new spring training home by 2018. The team is also exploring sites in Sarasota and Palm Beach counties.