Goodbye to the Orlando area.
The Atlanta Braves baseball team’s is saying farewell to the Walt Disney World spring training baseball stadium. The Atlanta baseball team is the last franchise in the central Florida-Orlando area and will relocate to North Port, Florida in 2020. A new training complex that will cost $110 million will house the business. The state, Sarasota County and North Port paid $45 million as an enticement to get Braves ownership to North Port. Florida cannot say the move will bring more money into the state which is the usual line in justifying the expenditure. Those who travel to Florida to see pre-season baseball are just going somewhere else and taking money from one area to another. The Braves organization has had four different Florida training camp sites since 1946.
Central Florida was a big spring training area since World War II ended. Orlando, Kissimmee, Davenport and Winter Haven had teams but that was before baseball organizations began playing town against town, Arizona against Florida. Baseball team owners got a big assist from Arizona lawmakers who decided that spring training was valuable. Teams keep moving as spring training complexes become more sophisticated and fan friendly. The fan friendly term is used instead of more costly as ticket prices for spring training games have skyrocketed. Atlanta’s owners will be picking up some of the cost at North Port facility, but the teams keep leases short with the of hope of getting better facilities complete with all sorts of revenue generating gadgets in the future. The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority has had a tough time paying off the debt on Phoenix-area facilities including the spring training stadiums in Goodyear and Glendale. When Atlanta departs Disney that will end spring training baseball in Central Florida unless someone decides it’s time to invest again in spring training.