Sarasota County to build the Braves a new spring training facility

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The Braves have trained at Walt Disney World for several years. The lease is up, however, and they’ve been on the hunt for a new facility for some time. Disney is just too geographically remote from most of the Grapefruit League facilities so they’ve looked on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for some time.

Their search appears to be over, however, as they have reached an agreement to move to Sarasota:

The Atlanta Braves formally plan to move the team’s spring training home to North Port in 2019, the team and Sarasota County announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement set the stage for final negotiations this spring on a contract to bring the Major League Baseball team to a new complex in the West Villages district just south of West Villages Parkway and U.S. 41, near the State College of Florida campus in North Port.

It’ll be a $75-$80 million complex on 70 acres. The story says it’s envisioned to anchor a “town center” commercial and residential district. If anyone has ever been to a spring training facility, however, one knows how ridiculous such an idea is. There is nothing more geographically un-centered and dispersed than a spring training facility. It’s a sea of open fields which private citizens generally cannot access and large parking lots. These facilities typically require major arteries, not quaint town streets, for reasonable access. The best any facilities do to integrate with surrounding communities can be seen in Fort Myers with the Twins and in Surprise, Arizona with the Rangers and Royals, where the facilities are part of larger community parks and recreation centers. That’s OK, and certainly better than nothing, but they’re not the anchors of the vibrant live/work/shop developments like the Braves and Sarasota are describing here.

But of course everyone involved has to say that, because selling such facilities as the engine of pie-in-the-sky development is a key part of making the large expenditure of public funds seem more palatable. And yes, there will be a big expenditure of public funds here: the Braves will be getting $56 million in taxpayer subsidies for the new place, some from the state, some from the county. The amount from the county, by the way, is calculated to fall just below the threshold required for a public vote on the expenditure. The Braves have always been blessed with the ability to avoid public votes for their corporate welfare, of course.

One wonders how many other wealthy private businesses owned by multinational corporations get tens of millions in tax dollars to build employee training centers. Not many, I’m sure. The Braves always seem to luck out in this regard, however.

Report: Mike Redmond has interviewed for the Orioles’ manager job

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that former player and manager Mike Redmond is among those who has interviewed for the Orioles’ open managerial position. Those others include Mike Bell, Pedro Grifol, Chip Hale, and Brandon Hyde.

Redmond, 47, spent 13 years in the majors as a player from 1998-2010. He took over as manager of the Marlins in 2013 but had a short and unsuccessful stint. The team went 62-100 in his first year, 77-85 in his second, then went 16-22 to start the 2015 season before he was fired. It was hard to put too much blame on Redmond, though, considering that the Marlins have nearly perpetually been non-competitive over the last eight years.

Redmond has served as the bench coach with the Rockies for the last two years.

Whoever becomes the Orioles’ next manager will be taking over a team that went 47-115 in 2018. It was the first season in franchise history and one of the worst seasons of all time. The Orioles traded Manny Machado during the season to help facilitate a rebuilding process that will likely take a few years.