Braves’ camp in Disney causes extra wear, move would be welcomed

(March 31, 2010): With Mickey Mouse at his side, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox acknowledges the crowd at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, March 31, 2010, prior to the start of his final game at the complex's baseball stadium. Cox is retiring as Braves manager following the 2010 season, and was honored by Disney prior to the Spring Training game. He has trained the Braves each spring at Walt Disney World Resort since the sports complex opened in 1997. The Braves faced the Houston Astros in their final spring training home game of 2010 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (David Roark, photographer)

Nothing against Mickey, but the Braves are looking forward to waving goodbye to spring training in Disney and the Orlando area. (Photo by David Roark)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — After six two-to-three-hour bus rides for three spring training games in the previous four games, the Braves were glad to be at “home” Tuesday for a game against the New York Mets at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.

“You were there yesterday,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We didn’t get out of (Dunedin) before 4 o’clock and we didn’t get back here until almost 7. The game in Clearwater went later and we didn’t get here until after 8 o’clock. This makes for a tough working area.”

The Braves played spring games in Clearwater (Philadelphia), Port St. Lucie (New York Mets) and Dunedin (Toronto), all a trek from the Orlando area. So “Operation: Flee Disney” is in full force. The Braves, determined to leave their spring training home following the end of their lease after the 2017 season, are in negotiations with Sarasota County to build a new facility on the west coach of Florida. Here’s a link to Tim Tucker’s story.

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A look at Tuesday’s admission price for the Braves-New York Mets spring game.

It would be a move welcome by players and coaches, as the only other team that currently trains near the Braves, Houston, is moving from nearby Kissimmee to a new facility in West Palm Beach next year. The closest team training near the Braves in 2017 will be the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland (40 miles and 45 minutes by bus). All other teams will be a two-to-three-hour drive, pending traffic.

“When you get players for 2½ hours on a bus, it’s a lot of wear and tear,” Gonzalez said. “And when you see what’s going on in Arizona where the longest trip is like a half-hour, you’re kind of envious of those people. There’s some players I haven’t even seen in the last three days because they’re not on the trip and they come in to stretch at 10 and I’m on the bus at 8 for the trip, then the next day we’re back on the road. It would make a lot of sense to get into an area with more teams around you.”

That wouldn’t be a problem in Sarasota. The Baltimore Orioles also train there. There are four teams just to the north: Pittsburgh (Bradenton), New York Yankees (Tampa), Philadelphia (Clearwater) and Toronto (Dunedin). There are two more to the south: Boston (Ft. Myers) and Minnesota (Fort Myers). The area also doesn’t present the traffic problems that come with the Orlando are and Interstate 4. Travel along I-75 isn’t nearly as taxing.

The Braves also don’t like Disney having total control on the operation in spring training, including ticket prices. Disney charged up to $62 for admission to Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets and also charges admission to watch non-game day workouts (approximately $15).

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14 comments
Anita Sue Donimm
Anita Sue Donimm

Actually, the talk is about building in North Port, at the southern end of Sarasota County and about 45 minutes south the city of Sarasota.  But the closest spring training facility -- that of the Rays in Port Charlotte -- is unmentioned here.  It's about 10 minutes south of North Port.

chris_chupp
chris_chupp

@sportsandra the last paragraph sums it up management doesn't like Disney's power. I don't see how moving such a short distance helps

DrPhill
DrPhill

Disney is a terrible place. The stadium is uncomfortable and a nightmare to get to especially to see minor league talent.

G B James Jr
G B James Jr

POOR BABIES, GET THEM LEMOS...2-3 HOURS ON A BUS IS NOT GOOD FOR THEM...lol

Raaharr
Raaharr

I definitely will not miss Champions Stadium.  Parking, for the most part, is very far from the stadium, food prices rival Turner Field, orientation of the field has fans facing the Sun all day, ticket prices are outrageous...I remember going to West Palm Beach for Spring training where it was great going to games and then the beach.


RangeRover
RangeRover

Poor, widdle, biddy baby millionaires having to ride on a luxury coach 2-3 hours. How on earth do they survive? 

Raaharr
Raaharr

@RangeRover Keep in mind that it is 3-4 hours each way and if fans want to take in an away game, forget it.  If you go for a week, you might see 3-4 games in Orlando, but if you are on the West Florida coast, you can see a game every day.

cbell1956
cbell1956

@DOBrienAJC ....I did manage to get in unnoticed but that was the last time I went. No love lost for me for them to lv Disney, sooner/better

cbell1956
cbell1956

@DOBrienAJC. I used to live in Winter Haven, for several years I would go to the P&C opening day, until Disney %&$@# started charging...

deamondeac95
deamondeac95

@DOBrienAJC $62 for a Spring Training game?! Are those the unlimited food and drink seats in the dugout?

JayGBraves
JayGBraves

@JeffSchultzAJC As a 40 yr Braves fan I can not wait to C them leave Borlando. Will b nice to hit the beach after a game instead of traffic.