Reds - General

Reds – Sarasota parting ways?

From the Sarasota Herald Tribune:

Financing for a stadium deal to keep the Cincinnati Reds in town fell apart on Tuesday.

It is all but certain that the county will not help finance a $45 million plan to renovate Ed Smith Stadium for the baseball team’s spring training.

The county’s $22 million share was the deal’s linchpin. Without it, the state’s $7 million contribution also evaporates.

“It’s pretty much dead,” City Commissioner Dick Clapp said of the renovation plan for the 12th Street complex.

Support for the stadium deal has slipped away since December, when the city, the Reds and the county came to an agreement to build a new $54 million complex, featuring a stadium on the north side of 12th Street, across from Ed Smith.

The city said at the time that rebuilding Ed Smith was not possible.

With the help of state funding, $44 million for a new stadium was raised, but the city’s efforts to find the final $10 million failed.

That led the city to scale back the project last month to a $45 million renovation and increase the amount city property owners would contribute.

But questions and criticisms still dogged the project. The city never came up with a detailed plan to pay off bonds, and county commissioners criticized the Reds’ $10 million contribution.

Patterson pointed out that the Reds’ share included revenues from selling the naming rights of the refurbished stadium. That money should have gone toward the public share, she said. Others complained that the Reds counted furniture, fixtures and equipment in tallying its $10 million share.

The Reds contract expires at the end of 2008.

City Manager Robert Bartolotta said an amended contract would keep the Reds in Sarasota on year-to-year basis until the team moved to a different city or a stadium deal could be worked out.

Look for renewed talks of the Reds moving to Vero Beach, once the Dodgers vacate. There is also a very nice complex sitting unused, I believe, just south of Sarasota in Port Charlotte, Fl.

IMO, this will hurt the Reds spring attendance, as the Sarasota/Siesta Key area are very popular destinations for Cincinnati vacationers.