Atlanta Braves explore West Villages for new spring training site
SARASOTA COUNTY - Sarasota County Commissioners authorized the county administrator on Tuesday to continue negotiating terms with the West Villages and the Atlanta Braves for the funding, design and construction of a state-of-the-art spring training destination in the new master-planned community. The proposed campus is envisioned to have training facilities, practice fields and a 7,500-seat stadium on a 100-150 acre site, with direct access to U.S. 41 and West Villages Parkway.
"This is an excellent opportunity for our county as well as the entire region," said Sarasota County Commission Chairman Alan Maio. "I believe the West Villages is uniquely positioned to partner with the Braves and the county to move these negotiations forward."
Braves President John Schuerholz said the organization is "excited and appreciative that West Villages and Sarasota County are working with us to potentially secure a beautiful, state-of-the-art, future spring training location for the Braves."
Having a Major League Baseball presence in south county would further Sarasota County's reputation as a sports tourism destination, according to Jeff Maultsby, the county's director of Business and Economic Development.
"This project is consistent with our goals to expand sports tourism throughout the county and would have a significant economic impact for the south county area," Maultsby said. "We look forward to supporting the West Villages proposal and participating in the discussions with the team."
The proposed property is located in south Sarasota County just off U.S. 41 in the new commercial core of the master-planned community of West Villages. It is adjacent to the State College of Florida-Venice campus and a future Sarasota Memorial Hospital 28-acre medical and wellness complex. The community is within 15 minutes of the Gulf beaches, historic downtown Venice and access to the wild and scenic Myakka River.
"The opportunity to provide the Braves with a world-class home for spring training matches our desire to create an inter-generational destination focused on an active lifestyle to make this possible," said West Villages General Manager Martin Black. "We think this part of the suncoast is ideally suited for the Braves. The Braves are an icon in America's sport and reflect the quality and values that the community will welcome and support. Our entire region will benefit from the dynamic economic impact."
Main Street Ranchlands, LLLP, the commercial developers in West Villages, and the Sembler Company announced their joint venture to develop the Marketplace at Coastamar in West Villages. This is the first commercial opportunity in this rapidly growing master-planned community. The Marketplace at Coastamar is a shopping, dining and entertainment destination with a planned 2018 opening.
The area surrounding the proposed spring training campus consists of four premier neighborhoods, selling more than 700 new homes annually - accounting for over 40 percent of new home sales in Sarasota County. It's a strong pre-retiree/retiree and family market that enjoys high household disposable income. Regionally, this is centrally located, with the spring training complexes of the Red Sox, Twins and Rays to the south and the Orioles, Pirates, Yankees, Blue Jays and Phillies to the North, all within easy Interstate 75 or U.S. 41 access.