Efforts to lure Braves to Collier for spring training gaining momentum

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jun 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-28 20:10:11-04
The prospect of Atlanta Braves making their spring training home in Collier County gained more traction Tuesday, as county commissioners discussed whether to move forward with efforts to attract the major league team.
While most commissioners are rooting for the Braves to have a spring training stadium in their county, Commissioner Penny Taylor made it clear that she doesn't see the point in spending millions of tax dollars to lure the team. She believes the money would be better spent building sports complexes for the area's youth.
"My priorities are the future of this community, and not o underwrite baseball," Taylor said at the commission's regular meeting Tuesday. "I don't think professional baseball has anything to do with our economic growth."
Ron Rice owns property in the City Gate area near I-75 and Collier Boulevard that the Braves eyeing for a possible stadium. He says that the site could offer sports for kids and professionals.
"Here's what I'm hoping, is that we can find a home for Penny Taylor's sports complex, and in front of it, put the Braves," Rice said.
Commissioner Tim Nance said that spending a few million in county dollars to build the Braves a new stadium would benefit a bigger team.
"The businesses, the hotels and everything that goes with it, are where the compound economic benefit can arise from," Nance said.
Jason Hartgrave of the Libertarian Party of Collier County disagrees with taxpayer money helping to fund a new stadium.
"If the Braves decided that it would be a good investment to come and be in our community, then they would put up the money to do that," Hartgrave said.
Commissioners previously voted down another site on Collier Boulevard in which the Braves showed interest, but Tuesday voted to have county staff study the feasibility of the City Gate site.
The Braves hope to have a new spring training site by 2019. They are still considering sites in Sarasota and Palm Beach Counties.