Sports Tailwinds Are Blowing Stronger


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, March 31st, 2016 – The sports performance sector appears poised to significantly increase its economic impact in the North Port‒Bradenton‒Sarasota metropolitan area, particularly on job growth and housing. Already, this emergent trend could be seen in Lakewood Ranch where early March 2016 groundbreaking was held for the 122-room Hyatt Place in Lakewood Ranch. Double rooms at Hyatt Place will be higher than normal so that it could cater specifically to sports teams.

Located in a 3.5-acre site near the northeast corner of Interstate 75 and University Parkway, this new hotel is expected to be inaugurated in February 2017, in time for the blue-ribbon World Rowing Championship to be held next year at the nearby Nathan Benderson Park. It will likewise fill hotel room shortages during peak season for the increasing number of events at Premier Sports Campus, which is now home to the fledgling Major League Football.

The Braves Are Knocking

Sports Tailwinds Are Blowing Stronger

Much hope can likewise be pinned on the recent confirmation of year-long rumors of plans for the Atlanta Braves to build a spring training facility in North Port. The Sarasota County commissioners in March voted unanimously to continue negotiations with this Major League Baseball team which was reported eying over 100 acres in North Port’s West Villages District for practice facilities including a 7,500-seat stadium.

If this pulls through, the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota area would be host to three Major League Baseball teams. The McKechnie Field in Bradenton is currently the venue for spring training of the Pittsburgh Pirates while in Sarasota, the Baltimore Orioles hold fort at Ed Smith Stadium.

Marketing Mileage

The tentative site for the North Port spring training facility mentioned under consideration was the southwest corner of River Road and U.S. 41. Should this plan eventually materialize, significant marketing mileage could spill over to several nearby residential communities. A short distance west of the proposed site is Islandwalk at West Villages with resort-like features and affordably priced two-bedroom villas listed amongst Sarasota homes for sale in the $200s.

Just opposite this community across U.S. 41, similar price points are offered at Gran Paradiso. There are also new builds here priced in the $400s and the $500s, featuring floor plans of between 2,360 and 3,800 square feet.

Multi-million Dollar Impact

County officials can be expected to exert all efforts to ensure that North Port wins the Atlanta Braves over as the returns are far-reaching and tremendous on the hosting of spring training for a Major League Baseball team. A recently released economic impact analysis by the county showed that the Baltimore Orioles’ Sarasota spring training games and other activities generated $81 million for the Greater Sarasota area in 2015. This figure surpasses the $40 million to $50 million that the State of Florida estimated in a 2009 analysis of economic benefits in communities hosting spring training of major league baseball teams.

Besides the tourism impact and marketing mileage created by the Orioles’ Sarasota spring training, economic benefits that were derived included job growth, increased business activity and direct club spending. The ball club’s spring training games in 2015 drew over 110,000 fans in 15 home games, setting a franchise record in terms of average attendance per game. Sarasota’s hosting of the Orioles is a 30-year contract which is now just on its seventh year, promising strong and sustained tailwinds from sports performance in the county in the years ahead.