It looks as though the Toronto Blue Jays are set to move forward with their plans of maintaining their relationship with Dunedin.
If you are a Blue Jays fan, the possibility of making the pilgrimage to Dunedin for spring training has either been thought of many times or it has been a reality with thoughts of returning. It has been a place the Blue Jays have called their spring home since the inception of the club in 1977, and is where many fans feel closest to the team. It is a place where fans have the ability to get up close and personal with their favourite players without the pomp and circumstance of an MLB stadium.
Ask any fan who has attended spring training in Dunedin and they will regale you with stories of how great the experience is, how retro the field is, and how accommodating the people of Dunedin are to the visiting fans. An amazing must-do experience for any die-hard. JFtC took a look at the Blue Jays relationship with the town of Dunedin during spring training this season. It really has been their home away from home.
One of the biggest problems with the facility that houses the spring training for the Blue Jays, is that it is split in two. The field, which is in the heart of downtown, is a ten minute drive from where the club’s minor league training takes place. It has become the norm for clubs to have their training facilities in an all in one complex of late. This is to better watch prospects and foster a mentoring of sorts to minor league players on their way up the system. The problem for Dunedin is, putting these two facilities under one roof is logistically impossible, there just isn’t the room or available land. This dilemma began the speculation of moving the Blue Jays out of Dunedin to a place that could accommodate bringing the training facilities together. For those fans making the yearly trek to spring training, this idea wasn’t popular, and it wasn’t what the good people of Dunedin wanted either.
Recently, news came down the pipe that the Blue Jays and Dunedin have been working on a deal that would have the team stay put, making fans and townspeople alike happy. The deal, reported by Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times, is worth $81 million. It has the Blue Jays contributing approximately $16 million of the price tag, with Dunedin, Pinellas County and the State of Florida splitting the balance. This deal would keep the Blue Jays in Dunedin for the next 25 years.
Details are still being worked as to the extent of the renovations, and whether or not this means the end of the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Both renovating the aging stadium and demolishing it to rebuild are part of the discussions, and were taken into account with the current price tag. According to Brendan Kennedy, this is the deal Shapiro is heading down to Florida to sell.
Mark Shapiro is traveling to Florida on Monday to pitch an $81-million proposal to keep the Jays in Dunedin: https://t.co/lwSEoZjeia
— Brendan Kennedy (@BKennedyStar) September 24, 2016
For Blue Jays fans, this is a welcomed deal which would see the Blue Jays continue a great history of spring ball in Dunedin -40 years and counting- while updating the complexes to remain competitive. It seems Mark Shapiro has done what he set out to do the moment he set foot in the Blue Jays head office, he’s worked a deal that will make players, fans and the town of Dunedin happy without breaking the bank. What’s left to say? Is there money left over from this sweet deal to #paytheman Edwin Encarnacion? There just might be.
*Featured Image Credit: Bart Hanlon UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.