The Blue Jays want a new spring training facility

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The Blue Jays are one of the dwindling few baseball teams who do not train in a single-site, state-of-the-art spring training complex. Rather, they’ve been in Dunedin, Florida in the same couple of joints since their inception as a franchise: one ballpark, one training facility three miles away. The park is nice and cozy if you’re going to take in a ballgame once in a while. It’s comfortably and unassumingly plopped down in a mostly residential neighborhood. Parking is not as easy as some other places, but it’s close to a lot of other parks and places to see and things to do in the Tampa Bay area.

The Blue Jays, however, are not there to pass a random March afternoon or two every few years like I am. They have to train there every year and use it as their Florida base of operations year-round. As far as that goes. it’s outdated and way less useful than the new, modern and integrated training facilities most other teams have. And it’s something they want to change. Mark Shapiro says he wants the major league facility to be “a state-of-the-art, top-notch facility, but (also important is) where we train, where we rehabilitate, where we look at putting our players all year round.”

The club would like to stay in Dunedin and has presented the city with its requirements, but you know how this dance works by now: they’ll expect the city to pay for it, the city will balk for a bit, then there will be a number of proposals, each more club-friendly than the last. Eventually the Blue Jays will use those offers to leverage another city, perhaps in conjunction with another club looking for new digs too, like the Braves. At the end of this, the Jays will have a new place, paid for mostly by taxes, with the actual city in which it is located being a secondary concern.

All of which means that, if you like cozy little ballparks unassumingly plopped down in mostly residential neighborhoods, figure that you only have a few seasons left to catch a game in Dunedin.