I missed this before the weekend, but it’s not really old news, just a few days late.
According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski traveled to Toronto to meet with Blue Jays front office personnel to discuss an extension to the team and the city’s spring training relationship.
While no deal was finalized, Bujalski came back from Toronto confident that the baseball team and the only city it has ever trained in during the spring will have things settled by the end of the year, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.
Unfortunately, there is a confidentiality agreement between the Blue Jays and the City of Dunedin that prevent any discussing of the negotiations.
Not sure that’s in the best interest of taxpayers, but ok.
But with the President of the Florida State League a long-time Dunedin Blue Jays employee, and the mayor wanting the team to stay, it seems more and more likely that Dunedin will keep up the conversation with the Blue Jays.
The Jays remain a top priority for the city, Bujalski said, but her trip to Toronto also served as a means to re-establish a working relationship between the two cities. In an effort to revitalize this connection, Bujalski met with Toronto Mayor John Tory.
Although Dunedin is the only location the Blue Jays have trained in in their nearly 40-year history, there is cause for concern. Unlike other stadia, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is four miles from the training facilities. That might not seem like much but other stadia, such as the empty Dodgertown and the soon to be empty Space Coast Stadium in Brevard County, are right next to their facilities. And with little space to build in Dunedin, the roomier empty facilities might be alluring.
While there is proof many tourists from Toronto do come to Dunedin for Spring Training, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium only holds 5,509 fans. Since 2005, the Jays have averaged 4,000-5,000 per Spring Training game.
Also of note, the Dunedin Blue Jays are again at the bottom of the Florida State League in attendance and Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is only 21.7 miles from the Tropicana Field, making it the 5th closest Minor League park to a Major League park in the US.