One of the biggest hurdles for a planned $81-million facelift for Dunedin Stadium, the Toronto Blue Jays’ spring training home, was cleared when the County Commission approved over $40 million in funding during its meeting on Tuesday.
It was a unanimous decision to use revenue from the County’s Tourist Development Tax to fund improvements to the stadium and the nearby player development complex. The county will contribute $41.7 million toward the total project that will include an increase in seating capacity to about 8,500, expanded stadium concessions, a new HD video board and improved parking around the stadium.
“We have the opportunity to perpetuate a partnership that we’ve had for decades that brings great value to our community,” Commission Chairman Kenneth T. Welch said in a statement. “It’s a positive step for Pinellas County.”
According to the County, spring training in Pinellas County has a $92 million annual economic impact. In addition to increased visitation, the county will receive additional marketing rights during spring training and during the regular season in Toronto.
The team is expected to contribute an additional $25 million over 25 years in maintenance, operations and repairs.
Dunedin Stadium, formerly known as Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and Grant Field, was originally built in 1930 and named after the mayor who championed its construction. The Jays have called the tiny beach town home since their inception in 1977 and it is the only spring training site the team has ever called home.
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