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Atlanta Braves, Sarasota County partners seek $20 million in state support for $75 million winter training facility

The Atlanta Braves and Florida partners have filed a grant application with Florida requesting $20 million to help pay for construction of the team’s $75 million winter training facility in the southern Sarasota County city of North Port.

If all stays on track, construction is expected to begin this fall, with completion scheduled for January 2019, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The grant application for the project in the West Villages district was submitted by the West Villages Improvement District (WVID), along with the Braves, Sarasota County and North Port.

The planned Braves project would generate more than $1.7 billion in economic impact over 30 years, an economic impact study filed as part of the application process says.

“This conservative impact study shows what a dynamic impact the Atlanta Braves Spring Training Complex is going to have on North Port, Sarasota County and the region,” WVID chairman Martin Black said in a statement. “We know this stadium and the excitement of Major League Baseball have more than just an economic impact, it will truly touch this community for two generations or more.”

The $20 million from the state of Florida and $21.3 million from Sarasota County are key parts of the funding plan. The rest of the funds would come from North Port (approximately $300,000 per year), the West Villages developer and the Braves.

Sarasota County and North Port governments have approved a series of agreements with the Braves, who have a recent history of securing taxpayer dollars for major- and minor-league stadiums. The Sarasota County Commission approved an operating agreement last month, and the North Port City Commission approved a licensing agreement in early June. Other agreements remain necessary before the deal is done, the published report says.

The Braves have held spring training at Disney’s Wide World of Sports near Orlando since 1998. They will train there for what is expected to be the final time in 2018.

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