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Upcoming Dunedin meeting could result in step toward start of Blue Jays project | North County

DUNEDIN – Regarding $81 million in proposed upgrades at Dunedin Stadium, some key pieces of the puzzle may fall into place at the Thursday, Nov. 8, meeting of the City Commission.

That’s when leaders will examine several sets of schematic designs brought forth by Missouri-based Populous Inc., the architects hired in July.

The commission also will decide if it wants to hire Gilbane Building Co. out of Tampa, a firm that the city staff has recommended for the project’s management and construction.

The Toronto Blue Jays have held spring training at the stadium, located on Douglas Avenue, since their inception in 1977.

As part of a 25-year agreement to keep the Blue Jays in Dunedin that was reached last November, the team ($20 million), the city ($5.6 million), the county ($41.7 million) and the state ($13.6 million) are all committed to contributing to the project.

The county’s amount will be paid within three years, while the state will hand over $1 million a year for 20 years.

Beyond improvements to the stadium, estimated at $33.3 million, a nearby 100,000 square-foot high-performance training and player-development complex is to be built for an estimated $47.7 million. It would also hold a clubhouse and feature several adjacent playing fields.

Doug Hutchens, the city’s deputy city manager, said that if the green light is given at the meeting, groundbreaking on the training facility would likely begin in late January or early February, with stadium improvements beginning in April after the Blue Jays head north.

Among the goals for stadium enhancements are a 360-degree wrap-around boardwalk, additional concession locations, a retail fan store, a tiki-hut bar, a kids zone, and potential more suites. Currently, two suites exist and they would receive refurbishing under the plan.

Additional seating is also desired, taking the stadium’s capacity from about 5,000 to 8,500.

The meeting will be held at City Hall, 542 Main St., at 6 p.m.

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