Bright House Network’s Bay News 9 reports that a group of community leaders from Dunedin are in Toronto this weekend to talk to the Blue Jays about their plans on continuing spring training in the small town just north of Tampa.
The Blue Jays have held spring training in Dunedin since 1977 but the facility has definitely seen better days – and Toronto has noticed other teams getting substantial upgrades to facilities not only around Florida, but in the Tampa Bay area.
Of the teams which hold spring training near Tampa, all but the Yankees – who left Fort Lauderdale after George Steinbrenner built what was then called Legends Field in 1996 – have seen massive improvements to their facilities in the past few years.
The Yankees are planning a $40 million renovation of Steinbrenner Field with Hillsborough County and the Tampa sports authority each reportedly kicking in $13 million.
The Phillies, for instance, left their long-time home at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater for a new facility across town. Lakeland’s Tiger Town – which has hosted the Detroit Tigers each spring since 1934 -- is getting a $40-million makeover as well.
Like the Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles also left Broward County for the west coast, leaving for a renovated Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota in 2010.
Florida’s Grapefruit League plays host to 15 big-league teams during spring training with South Florida adding two teams to its roster this spring.
While the Marlins and Cardinals train in Jupiter, the Washington Nationals (Viera) and Houston Astros (Kissimmee) are relocating to a new facility in West Palm Beach.
The Atlanta Braves are leaving Walt Disney World following 2018 and are said to be interested in potentially moving to a proposed facility in Palm Beach County as well.
Naples and Sarasota County are also reportedly in the mix for the relocation of the Braves.
Florida has been very active in keeping the teams it hosts during spring training after losing the Los Angeles Dodgers (Vero Beach) to Arizona in 2009.
The Cleveland Indians (Winter Haven) and Cincinnati Reds (Sarasota) moved to Arizona the following year.