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City Of Dunedin Signs Deal With Toronto Blue Jays

Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin is home to the Toronto Blue Jays spring training complex.

The city of Dunedin and the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a 25-year contract to keep the Major League Baseball team in town for spring training.

Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said the agreement is significant because the city could not apply for state money until the commission approved the project.

In addition to a $5.6 million contribution from the city, the $81 million dollar renovation plan calls for money from Pinellas County and the state. The team would shoulder about $15.7 million dollars.

Pinellas County would fund $46.5 million with money from the Tourist Development Council bed tax, a 6 percent tax allocated to marketing and capital projects.

Credit Flickr
The stadium has a current capacity of 5,509 individual seats. Renovation plans calls for major upgrades to the stadium and the team's training facility.

As part of the agreement, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin would be modernized to feature some of the amenities found at other spring training facilities in Florida. The ballpark would be equipped with a 360-degree concourse, a tiki bar, expanded team store and 6,000 fixed seats.

The Toronto Blue Jays played their first home game on April 7, 1977.  But their debut came a month earlier when the Jays beat the New York Mets in a spring training game in Dunedin. They are the only team in major league baseball that have never moved their spring training site.

The team has said the antiquated complex puts the Blue Jays at a disadvantage with other MLB teams.

The stadium is also home to the team’s minor league Class A, Florida State League, Dunedin Blue Jays.

At a city commission meeting Thursday night, Dunedin City Commissioner Maureen Freany called the plan a good deal.

"It’s great for our Dunedin businesses and great for our community, they've been a good community sponsor and partner. In the end after a lot of hard fought negotiations, I believe we're here because the city of Dunedin wants the Blue Jays to stay, they want the marriage to continue."

As part of the agreement, Dunedin High School’s baseball team will continue to play their home games at the Jays stadium.

Dunedin city officials hope to have the stadium renovation project done by opening day of spring 2019.

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