It’s a Done Deal-Financing in place for New Blue Jays Spring Training Complex in Dunedin

Image by Populous

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you will know that I have been invested in the Blue Jays staying in their spring-training home of Dunedin, Florida. I live only a few blocks from the stadium and have served on the Dunedin Stadium Committee for more than four years. I have sat through numerous meetings, city meetings, hearings and spoken before city council-all so I can say:

It’s finally done!

It’s been a long road and the Jays mean a lot to the city of Duneden, this is the only spring-training home they’ve ever known-they’ve been here for 42 years. By the time this deal is done they’ll be here another 25. They’re the only team in major league baseball who hasn’t moved and they won’t be moving for a long, long time.

The city council voted last night and the county voted their approval this morning.

You can read an article outlining the details of the deal HERE and watch the city council meeting HERE.

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The Jays Will Stay! Dunedin City Council Unanimously Approves Deal to Improve Facilities For Jays 

Four long years. Tonight was the culmination of four years work to create a a deal that was fair and affordable that would keep the Toronto Blue Jays Spring training home here in Dunedin.

Dunedin isn’t a big city. There’s only 35,000 people in town. We don’t have high rise hotels on the beach or a shopping mall. Our  beach is a state park, our “mall” is a string of mom and pop shops on a quaint Main Street. The Jays are a big part of what brings tourists into our little hamlet just north of Clearwater.

We are the only spring training home the Jays have ever had. 40 Years. Canadian fans have bought property to come here year after year to see “Canada’s Team”.

How could such a small town provide world class year round facilities? 

It took 4 years of negotiations but we have a deal. Both sides gave a little, both sides walk away winners.

The city will contribute $5.6 million, the State of Florida $13.7, Pinellas County’s “Bed head tax” (a tax on hotel rooms that the revenues generated can be used ONLY for tourism projects) $46 million with the team the remaining $20 million.

We could get into the economics of the tourism that spring training brings in (more than $90 million county-wide) or how just the announcers saying “Dunedin” during spring training broadcasts is worth $5 million alone…

But having the Jays here is more than that.

It’s how most kids see their first MLB baseball game right in town, it’s how the Jays have charity bowling games in summer, or how they let the local high school baseball team play on their major league caliber fields or how the Jays help the little league have first class fields to play on.

It’s what has been termed a “40 year marriage” and tonight we renewed those vows for at least another 25 years. 

It was personal for me. I found my house because I came here to go to a Phillies and Jays game and we got lost. We walked through downtown Dunedin and on to the stadium…on the way we fell in love. We’ve been here a little over five years. I’ve been on the Stadium Committee over four years having been appointed by the former mayor.

It’s been a long road. Tonight was the beginning of the end of that long road. We still have a few more steps to go, but the highest hurdle has been jumped and I am relieved.

Dunedin City Council with Mayor Julie Ward Bujowski holding the signed approval.

Josh Donaldson Makes Another Rehab Appearance

Today was one of those days where nothing went as planned but turned out great in the end. I had hoped to see former Blue Jay Pat Venditte make his first appearance at Phillies camp since being traded to the Phils from the Mariners. Since he had just returned from the World Baseball Classic, we thought that he would be at the Phillies’ complex. He was not.

Welcome to the Blue Jays

So I jumped in my Mini and headed back to Dunedin and to the Mattick Training Complex where the AA and AAA Phillies and Jays teams were playing. I got to the field as the Jays were taking the field in the bottom of the third inning. Just as I got behind home, the crowd rushed to the fence and when I looked up, I could see why, Josh Donaldson was about to bat.

I have to pause here to say that this was one of the coldest days of the winter. Early this morning, it was 39* F (4*C) and by now, it was in the mid 50s (12.8* C) with a very strong wind coming in from the gulf, right into our faces. It was freezing.

Donaldson took a swing……

Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson

Even into that strong headwind, there was no doubt that that ball was going to go out. There was a collective, “Ooooh” from the crowd as the ball cleared the fence and bounced out into the grass near the softball fields on the other side. It was one beautiful shot INTO the wind.

It was his last at bat of the day so I don’t know how his earlier at bats went, but let me tell you, he’s hit long homers into the wind the last two days, there is no doubt that his timing is down and he should be good to go, once he is given the green light to run again.

I never did get to see Venditte, rumor is that he was with the Phillies MLB team. Frankly, I forgot about him once I saw Donaldson hit that homer.

 

Phillies vs Blue Jays-March 2, 2017

My favorite games are the ones where the Phillies play the Blue Jays here in Dunedin. Even with my bad foot, we live close enough that we can walk to the stadium without any difficulty. (If we don’t go, we can listen to the PA from the front porch!)

I will ALWAYS be a Phillies Girl, but that being said, the Jays are my American League team. I live in Dunedin and am invested in the team staying here in Dunedin. I’ve gotten to love the Jays. Currently, my favorite major league player is Jose Bautista and I was happy to get to see him play.

Aaron Nola was back on the mound for the first time since his surgery. The radar gun in Florida Auto Exchange Stadium was reading that Nola’s top speed was 94, much higher than the 91 we saw him hit in his professional debut when he played for the Clearwater Threshers vs the Lakeland Tigers. (You can read my blog about his debut game HERE.)

Aaron Nola
Aaron Nola

The first time Bautista was up, he missed a home run by just a few feet (as you can see below). He settled for a single.

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Jose Bautista misses a home run by just a few feet.
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Jose Bautista misses a home run by just a few feet, as you can see here.

Later, facing Ben Lively, Bautista would not be denied, he killed the ball and got a three run homer. I was particularly thrilled when I caught the ball going over the fence in right center.

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Bautista nails the pitch from Ben Lively
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Going…..
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Going….  
GONE! Bautista's ball clears the fence.
GONE! Bautista’s ball clears the fence. (Upper right-hand corner.)
Bautista comes home with a 3-run homer.
Bautista comes home with a 3-run homer.

It was a good day for a game. For someone who loves both teams, it couldn’t be more appropriate that the game ended in an 8-8 tie.

Baseball Ross and I put together a video that we think you’d like, with pictures and video from today’s game as well as our thoughts. You can watch the video HERE.

 

 

Dunedin on the Eve of Spring Training 2017

All is quiet in Dunedin, Florida. The sun was shining, it’s a balmy 73* (That’s 28.8* C). What a great day to be alive in Dunedin!

Watch my blog to see how Dunedin is ready for the crowds of spring training fans to descend on the city. You can watch it HERE.

Welcome to Blue Jays Spring Training 2017
Welcome to Blue Jays Spring Training 2017

Babe Ruth was Here–Part 2 Dunedin Isles Golf Course

This is part two of my series, “Babe Ruth was Here”. Part One can be found HERE.

Babe Ruth was a frequent visitor to Dunedin during spring training. From staying at the Fenway Hotel, the focus of part one, to playing golf at the Dunedin Isles Golf Club.

Dunedin Isles Golf Club
Dunedin Isles Golf Club

This golf course is open to the public and you can see a picture of the Babe right in the lobby. If you click HERE, you can see the vlog I did highlighting this famous course.

The Tampa Bay Times Reports Blue Jays Stadium is a Hit With Locals!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that while I am a Phillies fan, I have a big spot in my heart for the Toronto Blue Jays. When I moved to Florida, our new house was only three blocks from Florida Auto Exchange Stadium where the Jays play.


After settling in I was appointed by the mayor of Dunedin to the Dunedin Stadium Advisory Committee, a group of volunteer residents of Dunedin who work with the Jays and the City.

It’s been a project close to my heart, 4 years of work. (You can see my posts on the city council meeting HERE and HERE.)

Today, the Tampa Bay Times had an article of how well received the $81 million plan was received. The text of the article is below:

  DUNEDIN — Nearly 150 people attended the city’s recent open house about the proposed $81 million project to upgrade the facilities used by the Toronto Blue Jays. During the Sept. 27 event — the first time the community was able to get a close look at the plans — attendees were encouraged to fill out comment cards.

Overall, the response was positive. Ninety-six percent of the 73 people who filled out a card answered yes when asked if they like the overall concept.
When it came to architectural style options for the planned renovations to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, commenters could choose between a Key West theme, a retro theme and a Mediterranean theme. Forty-seven percent voted for Key West, 40 percent for retro, and 13 percent for Mediterranean.
Suggestions, some of which are already part of the proposed plans, included a tiki car, berm viewing, a kid zone, group viewing areas, more and healthier food options, ways to keep cool and cup holders in seats. Some concerns were parking, noise levels, where the team will play during construction and shade.
Blue Jays project a hit with Dunedin residents 10/13/16 [Last modified: Thursday, October 13, 2016 11:53am] 

You can read the article complete with pictures HERE.

I voted for the Key West Style, it fits with the surrounding neighborhood and screams “you’re in Florida”.

Tuesday, the Dunedin City Council UNANIMOUSLY approved the applications to the county and state for their portion of the money needed for the project!

It’s the second step in a long journey, but it IS A STEP FORWARD.

Go Jays!