Agreement on Sarasota's Ed Smith Stadium delayed

07/20/09 Mitch E. Perry
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The City Commission of Sarasota today refused to sign an interlocal agreement with Sarasota County regarding the transfer of Ed Smith Stadium. That means a possible deal to make the region the spring training home of The Baltimore Orioles is still up in the air.

Sarasota City and County Commissioners have worked for several years on trying to keep the Cincinnati Reds in town. When that didn’t work out, they tried to court the Boston Red Sox, but to no avail.

Now, they’re trying to bring the Orioles to town. The new deal would allow the Orioles to rebuild Ed Smith Stadium.

Dave Bullock is the Deputy Administrator with Sarasota County. He said the agreement was relatively simple. But a snag occurred when he mentioned the issue of environmental liability.

That became a problem for City Commissioners, who realized that if the Orioles were to build beyond the current footprint of Ed Smith stadium, and there were environmental problems, it would put the city of Sarasota on the hook to pay for such cleanup.

Bullock said the County has agreed to spend $31.2 million dollars on the whole deal, and not a penny more. That did not sit well with Commissioner Kelly Kirschner.

The City Commission said they will revisit the issue on Wednesday; the County says they need a final answer by Friday.

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