The Phillies spring training deal with Clearwater ends in 2023.
Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies ownership has apparently decided it wants about $300 million worth of upgrades at its spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida. The Philadelphia Phillies business has been in Clearwater conducting spring training since 1947. The Philadelphia Phillies franchise played home games at the Clearwater Athletic Field from 1947 to 1954. The city of Clearwater opened a new ballpark for spring training in 1955. That stadium was used until 2003. The present Phillies spring training stadium opened in 2004. Soon to be 19-year-old stadiums without major upgrades don’t cut it anymore. Phillies owner John Middleton and the president of Phillies baseball operations Dave Dombrowski gave a presentation on the plan to Clearwater city manager Jon Jennings, Mayor Frank Hibbard and Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton in September. Phillies officials wined and dined three city council members during a trip to Philadelphia which included the elected officials taking in two Phillies games. All part of the lobbying effort to get funding for the complex.
For years, Clearwater elected officials and business leaders have spoken about the economic and cultural importance of having Phillies spring training baseball in the city although no real figures, just estimates have been put forth which is the case with sports economic spending in general. No one has ever done a study on sports economic impact, just guesses. The Philadelphia Phillies-Clearwater stadium deal ends following the 2023 spring training portion of the season. Clearwater’s gain may result in Philadelphia losing some baseball related jobs as the business would relocate departments to Clearwater including information technology. The proposal also includes building a dormitory for players, many of whom are teenagers from Latin America who are now housed in local hotels. Where will the money for the project come from has not been answered. But Phillies ownership wants a Clearwater sports complex.
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