Two teams talking Spring Training with Pasco County

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Noah Pransky writes about about rumors of two Major League Baseball teams talking about relocating their Spring Training operations to Pasco County.

His WTSP colleague Casey Cumley reports the developer behind the Wiregrass Ranch baseball complex has spoken to at least two MLB teams.

“The reason I say ‘two’ is because we’ve reached out to more than two, but active discussions have occurred with two,” developer James Talton said.

Talton and the county are touting $78 million in economic impact from the facility, even without spring training.  Of course, it will receive public subsidies.

But if the focus of the complex really is youth teams and tournaments, there are two important questions:

  1. Where did that oftenrepeated, yet seldom-cited $78 million number come from?
  2. How much of that $78 million will be pirated from Hillsborough & Pinellas County?

Building new ballfields doesn’t create new travel teams, but it does reduce the demand on neighboring counties’ facilities.  Inter-county competition can sometimes be a good thing.  But encouraging cities to compete against each other to offer the biggest spring training subsidies – then pouring even more state money into the pot – is not a good thing.

As it stands, expect the Pasco Co. developers to seek more subsidies so they can try and land one of the four spring training teams courting suitors right now.  And, expect some of the teams to play Pasco much the way the Cubs played Collier Co. in 2010.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.