With Spring Training set to get underway within the next month and SunTrust Park to make its debut on March 31st when the Braves take on the Yankees in their exhibition finale, the club may soon be getting a new home in Florida in the next few years. ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex has been home to the club for 20 years, but fans may soon have to make the trek west to see the Braves in Grapefruit League action as soon as 2019.
On Tuesday, the Sarasota County Government (@SRQCountyGov) posted a series of tweets that stated the team is in exclusive negotiations to relocate to Sarasota County as soon as two years from now. Per the county press release, there’s still plenty of work to be done before a deal becomes official, but that Tuesday’s developments were a “major step forward” according to county administrator Tom Harmer. Braves Chariman and CEO Terry McGuirk was quoted as saying “we appreciate the patience of all parties during this process. This is the perfect location for our team and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of Sarasota County and West Villages.”
With two of the closest teams leaving Central Florida this year (Astros in Kissimmee; Nationals in Viera), the center of the state is left with just two teams, the Braves and Tigers. Both Washington and Houston are headed to Palm Beach County starting this season, so travel for the exhibition slate will increase from years past.
A deal could be struck as early as January 24th when the Board of County Commissioners is set to meet.
@KevinMcAlpin covers the Braves for @680_The_Fan and the @BravesRadioNet