Sarasota talking with Orioles about training camp

12/04/08 Virginia Hoffman
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Sarasota County Commissioners discussed negotiations with the Baltimore Orioles at their annual retreat on Tuesday. Possible deals with the Boston Red Sox were recently abandoned.

After three negotiation sessions with the Orioles, Sarasota County Commissioners settled down to listen to a report from Deputy Administrator Dave Bullock. Commissioner Nora Paterson had concerns about the bottom line.

The bottom line for the capitol costs requests by the Baltimore Orioles is $65 million. Even among statements from Commissioners that this team is not worth the investment, Mr. Bullock explained the team would not take less. “Capital costs are at $65 mil, they stand firm on this amount.”

Commissioner Joe Barbette said the Tampa Bay Rays were happy with a $27.8 million facility in Charlotte County, as the American League Champs. Oriole attendance is dropping every year and the team is tied for last in ranking. Commission Jon Thaxton explained he felt the teams were using Sarasota for leverage. “Teams have used us to get better deals. This is a sellers market and we are the ones responsible for driving up the prices."

Commissioners instructed Bullock to go back to the Orioles and work to reduce the capitol costs. There was squabbling about losing baseball but Nora Paterson offered a different use for the Ed Smith Stadium. A public hearing to discuss the Orioles deal will be held on Dec. 17.

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