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Atlanta Braves considering Spring Training move to North Port

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NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Could the Atlanta Braves call Sarasota County their next spring training home? Commissioners gave officials the green light Tuesday to continue negotiations that could bring the team to North Port.

Baseball fan Rich Polonsky drives all over the Gulf Coast to watch his Yankees during spring training.

By 2018, Another team could host the Yankees right in his backyard.

"I think that's exciting, the more the merrier," says Polonsky. "More games for us to see and more minor league teams to watch guys go up the ladder."

Director of Business & Economic Development Jeff Maultsby received unanimous approval from Sarasota County Commissioners Tuesday to continue his pursuit of an Atlanta Braves spring training facility in North Port.

"The potential is tremendous obviously," says Maultsby. "We've got a long way to go to get through the process, but adding a second team to our community would be very beneficial to us we believe."

North Port's West Villages district has donated nearly 150 acres along U.S. 41 To be the proposed site of a future 7500-seat stadium and subsequent training facilities for the team.

"If you grew up in Florida before there were the Marlins or the Rays, the Braves were your team," says West Villiages marketing coordinator Sondra Guffey. "So people around here are very excited about bringing the Braves in."

The county could receive state grant money towards building a stadium, but will only offer around $24 million of their own tax dollars.

"Anything that we do will not exceed that number, and come strictly from tourist development tax dollars, so there will be no general fund dollars contributed to this project," assures Maultsby.

In the meantime, south county residents will be rooting for administrators as they continue negotiations.

"North Port is a growing, growing city, and we need more people," says Sonja Duncan.

Kathy Price adds, "I just went to Port Charlotte to see one of our favorite teams, the Orioles, and I would like to see a lot more of that."

Last year, the Braves were reportedly eying St. Pete, and even Venice for a possible spring training move, So administrators say they will be "cautiously optimistic" moving forward with this proposal.