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creek14
03-06-2007, 11:58 AM
The city and the Reds hire consultants in an attempt to rescue their spring training contract.

By CAROL E. LEE

carol.lee@heraldtribune.com

SARASOTA -- The city and the Cincinnati Reds have less than two months to figure out if the baseball team will continue to have spring training in Sarasota for the next 30 years.

In another effort to retain a deal they signed in December, which hinges on construction of a $54 million stadium by 2010, both sides will hire consultants to find ways to reduce the venue's cost and find additional sources of funding.

The city needs to land a contract for a private development near the stadium's 12th Street site in order to come up with its $10 million share of the stadium's funding. The deadline for bids is April 12. The city has to approve a project by May 1 in order to retain the state funds that have been allocated for the stadium. Missing the deadline would make receiving the state funds difficult.

If the city does not find a private developer, the deal would likely fall through.

The agreement gives the Reds and the city the option to back out of the 30-year deal if a developer does not invest by July.

"The time's running out," said Commissioner Mary Anne Servian.

The stadium's cost will be covered by a combination of funding from the city, state and county, and $10 million from the Reds, whose current lease with the city for Ed Smith Stadium expires next year.

Under the agreement, the city would also be obligated to "fund all project costs in excess of the financial commitments of the county, Cincinnati Reds and the state of Florida."

Dick Sheldon, president of The Better Government Association of Sarasota County, urged the commissioners to break their end of the deal.

"I know there will be cost overruns, and I don't believe it's fair to put it on the backs of taxpayers," he said.

Commissioners on Monday approved the hiring of the Minneapolis-based advisory and planning firm Conventions, Sports & Leisure International for $25,000.

"We're getting at a point in our process," said interim City Manager Pete Schneider, "where we are making sure that we provide an opportunity to do a full analysis of our program and the costs that have been proposed to date."

On Monday, the Reds hired Ohio-based Pizzuti Solutions, a company that specializes in public-private projects. The two consultants will work together to analyze the stadium's funding sources, explore additional revenue options and make changes to the project in order to reduce the $54 million price tag.

"We hope they'll help us find best use of the property," said Dick Williams, director of business operations for the Reds. "It's trying to close that gap."

On Monday, the city will hold an open house for developers.

Officials will give them driving tours of the land, ballpark and surrounding neighborhood. And they will have the opportunity to have lunch and attend a 1 p.m. game. The Reds will be playing the Toronto Blue Jays.

Commissioners are hoping for a $700,000-per-year long-term lease with a developer.

The city got no response when it previously solicited bids for proposals for a hotel and retail complex near the proposed new stadium.

KronoRed
03-06-2007, 01:25 PM
Hope this works out.

The Reds in AZ would just be wrong.

KittyDuran
03-06-2007, 01:29 PM
Hope this works out.

The Reds in AZ would just be wrong.Not to mention a L-O-N-G drive!

JaxRed
03-06-2007, 01:43 PM
There was another recent article that said one of the rumors floating around was that Sarasota might propose putting the stadium (and 2 practice fields) down on Fruitville Rd where Hobart Arena is now, and leaving the minor league facilities on Tuttle. The Reds were pretty non-committal about that idea. I think it stinks.

Another rumor denied by everyone, was that Brewers would leave Az for Vero Beach and Reds would go to Az.

If Sarasota can't do the deal, I'd rather see Reds in Vero.

Chip R
03-06-2007, 02:00 PM
IIRC, we had a thread about this a few years ago about how the notoriously cheap Reds would cut costs at GAB. I think we had stuff in there like fans bringing their own chairs to the games so they wouldn't have to build seats. It's probably long gone but I bet the Sarasota people could get some good info from that. ;)

creek14
03-06-2007, 02:02 PM
Jax, just wondering why you don't like the Fruitville idea? I haven't really thought it through, but the two locations are close to each other and seems to me if it was a way to keep the team in Sarasota, it would be okay.

JaxRed
03-06-2007, 02:10 PM
I really want to keep the two facilities together. Minor and major. And the article kind of indicated the Reds were lukewarm to the idea.

I'm torn on Sarasota. I'll admit I'm prejudiced. I would like to see them closer to Jax. So Vero or Orlando area would be better. Bonita Springs (tried to get Indians) would be worse.

I just hate to see them "settle" for a less than ideal ST facility just to stay in Sarasota. I'd rather have a first class facility anywhere in Florida. But I'd rather have them in a dump in Florida than a palace in Az.

vic715
03-06-2007, 07:41 PM
I wish they had never left Plant City.Does anyone know why they did?That facility couldn't have been that old. They were only there for nine or ten years.

LexingtonRedsFan
03-06-2007, 09:08 PM
I just cant see the Reds doing spring training in Arizona