While the Tampa Bay Rays stole the spotlight the last few weeks with their new manager and possibilities of relocation, another Tampa Bay area baseball club took a step towards their own long-term plans.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, new Dunedin mayor Julie Ward Bujalski met with officials of the Toronto Blue Jays to discuss the needs of the team and their chances of staying in Dunedin. The biggest hurdle for the team, according to the Times, is the need to either renovate Florida Auto Exchange Stadium or build a new stadium.
According to the Toronto Star, the Blue Jays have the option to extend their agreement with the City of Dunedin for two 5-year periods after 2017.
Unlike the Rays stadium ordeal, developments between the Blue Jays and the City of Dunedin will all be done behind closed doors.
In September 2013, the Jays sent a letter asking city officials to keep mum, citing a Florida law that threatens anyone who reveals the business plans of a private company that requests confidentiality with a misdemeanor.
It will be interesting to see how much public money will be going to cater to the Blue Jays, especially considering the Blue Jays low attendance levels.
As of August, Dunedin officials said they had been waiting about five months for the Jays to submit in writing a list of desired facility upgrades and cost estimate that the city can use to seek financial assistance from the county and state.
No doubt there are other facilities throughout the state clamoring for the same public dollars.
Despite the Blue Jays exploring other options and other Florida locations, the City of Dunedin remains supportive of the Blue Jays.
Bujalski said she and local baseball officials are planning festivities to celebrate the Jays’ March 3 spring training opener. She said the chamber of commerce is gathering a delegation to once again travel to Toronto to show support during the team’s first home game in April.
The Toronto Star also reports Dunedin has also become a favorite of retiring Blue Jays fans.
the Toronto fan base is likely very happy to be staying in the Tampa Bay area. Many long-time Jays fans purchased real estate in Dunedin, Palm Harbor or Clearwater years ago
Dunedin is one of the smallest cities in America with Minor League Baseball with a population of approximately 35,000.