The Toronto Blue Jays have about four years before deciding the fate of its 35-year relationship with Dunedin.
Team officials recently told a Canadian reporter that they were using the time to look at other locations, citing Dunedin's stadium conditions and its three-and-half mile distance from the clubhouse as reasons for leaving.
The looming expiration has prompted city officials to develop strategies for keeping the team happy to call Dunedin its home.
"There are still approximately four and a half years remaining on the current agreement, and it is advisable to use that time wisely to secure a contract extension," Vince Gizzi, parks and recreation director, wrote in a March 13 memo to Rob DiSpirito, city manager.
They'll be discussing those options during Thursday's commission meeting at City Hall.
Gizzi proposes the following:
- Regular communication and trips to Toronto and Dunedin between both parties.
- Visit and research other Spring Training facilities in Florida.
- Explore funding resources.
- Develop a list of the Blue Jays' facility needs and recommended improvements to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
- Meet regularly with stakeholders.
- Conduct an economic development study.
- Solicit support from state representatives.
- Create a city "team" for negotiating with the Blue Jays to include the city manager, city attorney, parks and recreation director and finance director.
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Dunedin officials recently discussed planning a trip to Canada to help strengthen ties with the franchise.
The Blue Jays' contract expires on Dec. 31, 2017, but it includes two, five-year extension options.
Gov. Rick Scott is working to provide $5 million a year toward stadium improvements aimed at retaining the Blue Jays and the four other MLB teams whose contracts are set to expire between 2016 and 2017.
Scott's program unveiled in early March will require a 50 percent match from local governments, although it is still in conceptual stages.
Six of Florida's Spring Training teams have been lost to Arizona since 2000; 14 Major League Baseball teams are still in the state.
The public can attend Thursday's meeting at Dunedin City Hall or watch the meeting live beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Dunedin TV on Channel 615 for Bright House customers or Channel 15 for Knology and Verizon customers.
- Blue Jays Looking to Leave Dunedin?
- Gov. Scott Proposes Funding for Spring Training Stadiums in Florida
[Last updated Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 7:35 p.m.]