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OK, this isn’t precisely breaking news, as the post we’re talking about was time-stamped at 6:40 PM ET this evening, but it’s new to me, and to my Twitter feed, and definitely relevant, especially for those Jays fans who like to spend parts of their spring in the quiet town of Dunedin on Florida’s gulf coast– and especially for those who’ve been making the pilgrimage for years.

The Jays have held Spring Training in Dunedin since their inception, at what once was Grant Field, and now, at the same site, what’s now called Florida Auto Exchange stadium. But in the near future they will be there no more.

Houston beat writer Brian McTaggart of MLB.com has the news, as he tells us that Astros owner Jim Crane reveals that the Jays have signed a letter of intent to join his club in brand new facility in Palm Beach Gardens, following a deal he says is “95 percent” sure to be completed.

Money quote:

“The Blue Jays have committed and signed a letter of intent, so we’re ready to move forward,” Crane said. “That thing should be buttoned up hopefully by the end of October. We’ll get that stadium built and it will be a fabulous new facility in Palm Beach Gardens.”

The earliest the new facility could be open, we’re told, is 2016.

So that’s two more years in Dunedin, and despite the surprising charm that I found in my brief time in the city– charm by Florida standards anyway, with its brew pub and hippie beach bar denizens who grew up in Detroit and fought in Vietnam, and… um… actually mostly just those two things– I can completely understand why. Not only are the stadium facilities outdated– it sure will be weird to see the Jays play home games, Spring Training or not, in a swishy new stadium– but the minor league complex is a ten minute drive away. With no land available to put both the major- and minor-leaguers in one place, and what must be a frustrating series of bus trips involved for those who need to go back and forth, it just wasn’t a modern operation. It’s why we’ve heard many rumours along the way that this was coming.

But there is charm to it. And– perhaps I say this as someone who has only been to Dunedin once, and briefly, and hasn’t had to endure the yearly grind– it’s kind of a shame to see the long relationship end after a couple of generations. I’m sure it will be sad for a lot of people, in two years, to say goodbye to the employees and attendants whose faces they’ve been used to seeing every spring.

I’m just guessing, though. Besides, taking all that maudlin nonsense out of the equation, for anyone who is part of the Jays organization, or the media, or even the fans, a new facility probably actually sounds like a king hell of a thing. Hey, and we’ll get to see the ascendant Astros by then, too!

So it goes.

Comments (46)

  1. This is a shame. The Gulf coast is really nice.

  2. Best news. Love it.

  3. Supposedly the Jays are contracted to Dunedin until 2017 but can pay a penalty if they want to leave early.
    Have I got that right?

  4. Not that anybody should care but it’s Brian McTaggart not Chris.

  5. Great news for those of us who winter in SW Florida (better weather too)…

    • SE Florida … Where’s my compass?

    • @jeff.

      Bad News for those of us that viit sarasota each year & are plnning to retire there. I suppose it’s not that far to Palm beach.

      Bad news for Dunedin Tourism. Lots of Jays related tourists there each year

      • Agree. I only made it there once, and I was the dumbass who went two weeks before camp opened, but it had a fun feel to it. It was cool to see all the local businesses with countdown signs, and “spring home of the Jays”. Let’s corporate that shit up I guess….

  6. If this facility ends up being like any of the mega-sites they’ve put together in Arizona (I’m thinking of something like the Dodgers/Royals facility), it’ll be almost an almost incomprehensible improvement. Bummer for Dunedin, obviously.

    Though I do wonder: does that mean the Dunedin Blue Jays are toast?

    • Yeah, that team would go where the facility goes, I’m sure.

      • Though how would that work if we share the ground with the Astros? Do they not have a minor league team that would also follow them?

  7. At least they will be in Dunedin for a couple more years then. Halladay chose to go to philly because he wanted to stay close to his Florida home, so if he has any interest in coming back to the jays, then they can still offer him the chance of being close to home in the spring.

    • @Darren. Halladay used to have a home in Oldsmar which is near Dunedin.

    • Holy shit dude, get the fuck over it already. Halladay’s gone, he’s never coming back. Just like his pitching ability.

    • Halladay is done. Get over yourself.

      • How does you thinking Halladay being done pertain to Darren ‘getting over himself’….you lost me with that.

        I say let people fantasize about the pipe dresm of Halladay signing w/ TO and regaining his former self.

        Note: I said pipe dream

  8. Pretty tough change. Love heading to Dunedin to see the Jays each spring.

    • I agree. It’s a nice little town to visit and has some great spots to eat and drink. The stadium is small but it has it’d charm.

  9. Kind of a bummer they didn’t end up heading to Arizona, I’ve found that that’s the preferable (to me, at least) spring training league, if only because all of the complexes are in such close proximity.

    • Players would have loved it too.

    • The Arizona model sure seems to make more sense, but I think Florida is pretty engrained– Beeston spoke about how all the snowbirds that come from this area and winter down there means that it makes more sense than to move way west. I get that.

  10. On a side note, I covet David Price.

  11. I’m sad about this even though I’m sure better facilities will be better for the ball club. My grandparents snowbirded in Clearwater when I was growing up, and we used to head down there all the time. Gulf Coast = the best.

    Two minor-league questions (one is sort of Tony’s from above). Are the GCL Jays done? And if the facility is shared with the Astros, how will the A+ ball teams work? Or will the Jays stay in Dunedin for minor-league ball?

  12. Palm Beach Gardens. Same county that the Marlins/Cardinals play in.

    Nice part of the state. A bit hoity toity, but nice.

    Plan you flights via PBI or FLL.

    • It occurs to me that Porter’s proposed routes include West Palm Beach (PBI) if they get to extend the runway and have jets fly out of the island airport.

      As a downtown Toronto resident, this is considerable.

      • As a downtown resident I’m hoping Porter gets its way with the Jets. No more Pearson for North American flights!

      • I don’t get how Porter could fly direct to PBI because there are no US customs there. The reason you can fly anywhere from Pearson is that the US border is actually within the terminal.

        That’s why Porter flies to Dulles instead of National in DC (which makes it basically useless for that flight).

        I guess we’ll see…

        • You can still post clear in the states if you come from a small airport.

          As for Porter getting C Series Jets, that’s an outside chance considering a runway longer than 4500 feet would have to be built at YTZ. IT was hard enough to get a bridge there.

          Just take WestJet to FLL or AC to PBI. And save me a beer.

          • The Union to Pearson Express train should be in service by 2015, so flying out of Pearson might not be so awful by the time the Jays are in PB.

            Still, Porter would be nicer if they can swing it.

  13. Jiminez?

  14. “So it goes.” Very Kurt Vonnegut Jr of you Andrew.

  15. Glad I got the chance to go down this past spring when the mood was still optimistic and wonderful. Its a neat little spot and having heard about it for so long growing up I wanted to see it – though there was much about it that was inconvenient. Unless you happen to be staying in Dunedin its kind of a bitch to get to because of Tampa traffic etc. Overall the park was nice enough and the area is equal parts quaint and trashy.

    • Same story here– except I didn’t deal much with the Tampa traffic. Stayed near the Phillies complex in Clearwater. I liked Dunedin way more than I expected to, but like I say in the post, I get why guys who end up there for six weeks some years might get tired of it.

  16. Interesting thought experiment; what if, after the Marlins trade, AA had decided to be the worst kind of panderer and had just let everyone’s mapleboners stand tall?

    Instead of signing Melky and trading for Dickey we would have signed Russell Martin and Ryan Dempster. Depressingly, we probably would have ended up with a better team.

    It’s not fair to draw any judgment from this, but it speaks to the fact that in baseball sometimes the smart moves turn out terribly and the ‘dumb’ moves come out gangbusters. Maybe something to think about the next time you call someone an idiot for using OPS, huh?

    • Nobody called anybody an idiot for using OPS, not that that has anything to do with anything here.

      Also, the difference of these two scenarios would be pretty marginal. And giving a shit about your free agent’s passport is beyond dumb.

  17. Legitimately upset at this. My parents bought a place in Indian Shores (20 min drive from Dunedin) and had season tickets for Jays spring training. Being able to pop down there and go to a few spring games is great. No longer…

  18. Moving to a new facility that apparently wasn’t possible in Dunedin is good news for the future.

    But it’s a sad day for fans who have purposely bought winter homes near Dunedin over the years to be close to the Jays. It may just be spring training, but it’s like having your team relocate to another city. It hurts.

    Also a shame from a historical point of view, as it’s a beautiful thing that the Jays have had 35+ seasons of continuity in Dunedin. It gives you the warm fuzzy feeling of memories of past Jays, the ghost of Tom Cheek and so on. Won’t be the same being uprooted to the other coast. But c’est la vie, nothing stays the same it seems.

  19. I was really hoping this wouldn’t happen. I live in Dunedin, and the Jays are a great organization. Everybody I have come in contact with in the Jays’ organization are awesome all the way up to the players I have been lucky enough to come in contact with. I hope the Jays enjoy their new home, but it’s really a shame that the Jays didn’t give Dunedin a chance to come up with something within the next four years. They have pretty much made up their mind before giving Dunedin a chance. Enjoy the Jays in Palm Beach Gardens because Dunedin will sure miss them!!

    • I really enjoyed my time down in Dunedin, brief as it was. I agree, it seems like a shame. Especially for you guys there.

      Go enjoy them the next couple of years, at least!

      • I’ve been a season ticket holder for the past 7 seasons for the Dunedin Blue Jays and this will definitely have an impact. Will make the most of the next 2 seasons for sure!!!

  20. This all goes back a few years when the elementary school next door to Grant Field was slated to be demolished. The Rogers group wanted to purchase the land from the School Board and construct new training facilities on the site, thereby having all activities on one site and eliminating the shuttle to and from the Englebert Complex (owned by the City, leased to the Jays). But, the school was the site of an historic building, the citizens of Dunedin petitioned the School board not to sell, the Board did not sell and instead constructed a new school o the site.
    So, people that complain about the loss of the Jays better not be the same ones who signed the petition to keep the school.
    It could have been a win-win; the Jays would stay, the City would take back Englebert and use it for AAU tournaments and made more money and the School Board could have had cash in thier pocket. But, what’s done is done. So long Blue Jays….

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