From the Enquirer:
The Reds’ effort to build a new spring training complex in Sarasota, which seemed like a done deal months ago, is an issue again.
The holdup is neither the Reds nor the city of Sarasota has been able to find a private developer to make up the $10 million needed to complete the $54 million project.
The Reds and the city each hired consultants this week.
“There’s not a snag,” said John Allen, the Reds’ chief operating officer. “All along, we’ve had a $10 million piece we didn’t have finalized yet. What we’re looking to do is have a private developer come in – and via the rent they pay – bring up the other $10 million missing piece.”
In the fall, companies were invited to bid to be the private developer. None came forward.
The hope is consultants can find a private developer.
The Reds hope to have something done in the next 45 days. A meeting with prospective developers is scheduled for Monday.
The Reds want a stadium similar to the one the Philadelphia Phillies have in Clearwater. The stadium also would be home to the Sarasota Reds, the Florida State League franchise the Reds bought. The complex would house the Reds’ year-round minor-league operation as well.
One of the things the city of Sarasota is looking at is scaling back the project to make up the cost.
“We’re getting at a point in our process,” interim city manager Pete Schneider told the Sarasota Herald Tribune, “where we are making sure that we provide an opportunity to do a full analysis of our program and the costs that have been proposed to date.”
The Reds probably would walk away if the city tried to make up all $10 million by scaling back the project. The lease expires after 2008.
“I doubt that that’s going to be acceptable,” Allen said. “We have to wait and see. If there’s value engineering – I hate to put a dollar figure on it – if it’s relatively minor, we’ll take a look at that.
“But if it’s a dramatic drop in scope, it would create questions.”
Arizona is always looking to add teams, but the Reds want to stay in Florida. There could be alternatives here as well. The Los Angeles Dodgers are leaving their facility in Vero Beach after 2008. Lee County (Fort Myers) also is interested in adding a third team.
I sure hope that the Reds and the city of Sarasota can work this out. Sarasota is a great family vacation area and I think it’s a better area for the Reds than any of the other options mentioned.