NORTH PORT, FL- The city of North Port loses out on another way to bring visitors to the city. Touted as an economic driver, a deal to bring replica fields of major league ball parks is now dead.
After two years of talks Big League Dreams Sports Parks informing city leaders like Commissioner Jim Blucher. "I am disappointed it is not going to happen here in North Port but I can't control that."
The company had big plans for a southern headquarters here. Replica fields for baseball and softball. Even an indoor soccer field. With 11 similar facilities in California, Texas, and Nevada they said it would bring in thousands from all over. "I visited four different establishments where they have it set up. Every one of them had one or two hotels next to it, immediately. That is what we lost with that."
Big league dreams apparently aren't free. The city actually put up $450,000 for the rights from Hillsborough to Collier County. They're getting it back without interest. "The money came out of the general fund. It will be returned. It will be returned to the fund balance of the general fund. If the commission deems it appropriate they will utilize it in the budget," says City Manager Jonathan Lewis.
The latest attempt to bring visitors to the largest city in Sarasota County. One without a single hotel. "It is definitely a loss for North Port." Peter Bartolotta is the president of the North Port Economic Development Corporation. He says it would have been nice but there other options. They're looking into "eco-lodging" sites which could include horseback and ATV riding. "We don't have the beaches but we do have access to a lot of environmentally sensitive land. To the Myakka State Forest. It's the only State Forest in the State of Florida in city limits. Access to Dear Prairie Creek. 10,000 acres of beautiful property."
Looking to take advantage of what North Port has to offer. Big League Dreams now thinks the Jacksonville area can offer them what they need.
Our coverage partners with the North Port Sun reporting the city could be getting it's money back by the end of the week.