Report: Blue Jays agree to sit down with Dunedin officials

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Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

According to Keyonna Summers of the Tampa Bay Times, the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to meet with city officials for a preliminary discussion about the team’s future in Dunedin. The coastal city of approximately 35,000 people has been the host of Blue Jays spring training since 1977.

To rehash a bit of the back story, the Blue Jays had previously threatened to leave Dunedin because of their unhappiness with the facilities. They joined the Houston Astros with hopes of building a new state-of-the-art complex in Palm Beach Gardens but that plan was met with heavy local resistance and the deal is now “dead”, according to Summers. She gets a quote from Jays’ senior consultant Ken Carson who said as far as he knew the Blue Jays were no longer involved in the Astros’ search for a new spring training home.

The Blue Jays weren’t that involved in the “search” process to begin and only signed a letter of intent after the Astros’ found the original site in Palm Beach Gardens. If Houston owner Jim Crane is able to find another location I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Blue Jays jump back on board. However it might not be easy as a Palm Beach County administrator notes “prime land able to accommodate a 100-acre or so stadium is scarce” on the well-developed Florida east coast.

In regards to the upcoming meeting, Dunedin mayor David Eggers says it should give the city some clarity as to what the Blue Jays are looking for and whether or not they can deliver on those needs. Their current contract expires in December 2017 and Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star thinks “all of this relocation posturing can only help speed up improvements” and the biggest issue remains the 10-minute commute between the minor and major league complexes. Other issues including parking and only one full diamond at the main stadium and Griff adequately sums it up as follows:

Dunedin is considered the Wally World of spring training compared to other Disney-like entertainment palaces that have sprung up in both Florida and Arizona.

Blue Jays’ President Paul Beeston refuses to publicly discuss Dunedin but according to Summers “the team has pledged to remain in Dunedin until its contract expires.” The major issue remains whether or not Dunedin will be able to meet the Blue Jays demands, but at least the two sides appear ready to start talking some things out.

Topics: Spring Training, Toronto Blue Jays

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  • Tim Shepherd

    The state of Florida was going to throw $100 million at the east coast Astros/Jays facility. How about $50 million to Dunedin to help keep the Jays where they belong. A whole bunch of sprucing up could be had for $50 Mil.

    • Justin Jay

      I think it’s about location too. Have you ever been to Dunedin?

      • Tim Shepherd

        I have lived there for 8 years. And I am retiring in Dunedin. And I will most likely die in Dunedin. Delightful Dunedin is my home. The sprucing up is not needed for the city, but for the facilities.

        • Justin Jay

          Ok, good! See, I like it there! But as you know, it’s minor league complex is smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood. There also isn’t much as far as restaurant, dining, and entertainment options go. Places like the Phillies complex just down the road in Clearwater make the Blue Jays complex look particularly bad. And not that I think a 10 minute commute is all that bad, but you know how it is. “If the Red Sox don’t have to do it, why should we?”

          • Tim Shepherd

            Okay, it’s settled. You’ll raise $75 million Canadian dollars from Canada and build a place like the Phillies have. And when you go there and park you’ll have no idea if your car will still be there at the end of the game. No matter, you can walk to a hot wing place, or maybe a Chinese take out or a mediocre pizza joint. And the hot sheet hotels on Highway 19 are a real treat. Know that the city of Dunedin is still paying off bonds on the last renovation of Blue Jays facilities. And we are glad to do it to host our Canadian friends. You should also know there is a mediation plan being suggested in Dunedin where the library and a school will be relocated and new big league camp practice fields and parking will be added to the Florida Auto Exchange stadium site. But, if that doesn’t work out, the Jays could always take over the Astros facility in the motel ghetto in Kissimmee, a mere three hour dive in traffic from the coast. Or even Ft. Myers, with its other two teams and $300 hotel rooms during spring training. Dunedin’s partnership with the Jays has been a good one for the city and the team. Hopefully, a way can be found to keep it going with this additional bite at the apple. But everyone should have the right to act in their own best interests, including the Jays and even John Farrell.

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