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Naples residents react to stadium proposal

Posted at 8:00 PM, Apr 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-11 06:49:03-04

NAPLES, Fla. -- The Atlanta Braves are looking at Southwest Florida as a possible location for a spring training site, and many residents say they are embracing the idea.

The Braves hope to leave their Orlando complex in 2018, seeking areas in Collier County to be closer to other teams that have facilities in Southwest Florida.

However, the move could mean heavier traffic in an area that is mainly residential. "I'm all for it," said Mike Karlen, a resident near the proposed location.

Gary Price from Fifth Avenue Advisors is spearheading the plan. According to him, the Braves have looked at a couple of areas in the county, but prefer a plot of land off Collier Boulevard, just south of Interstate 75. "We're trying to build a compelling argument that we can provide the best location," said Price. "It's a way to change the economic diversity."

The stadium would attract shops, restaurants, and condos. For that reason, some worry about noise and traffic in the area, which is surrounded by several gated neighborhoods. "As much as the will to do this is there, I'm not sure that it's a viable plan at this point," said county commissioner Penny Taylor. "Folks spend their life savings in their homes, [they] expect it to be residential."

Other residents said they would not mind. "The stadium would probably bring a little bit of congestion, but if they put law enforcement agents to direct traffic, it should ease it up a little bit," said Kenny Jardin, a season resident who lives near the site.

The Braves are also looking at Sarasota and Palm Beach counties as other possible locations for spring training.

The plan for the proposed stadium in Collier County will be presented to commissioners on Tuesday.