Sarasota update update
I watched the Sarasota County Commission meeting via the Web. First, I'm very thankful I cover baseball and not county government. Second, I think the Reds chances of staying in Sarasota are very, very slim.
The Commission did not have the votes to approve a proposal to move on the new plan to renovate Ed Smith Stadium, largely because a 4-1 vote is needed to approve the plan. The commission voted 3-2 to move on with the plan. But it would take to a 4-1 vote, so essentially it failed 3-2. The new plan called for the county to contribute in $17.8 million in tourist taxes dollars.
Update: Later in the afternoon, the Sarasota City Commission voted to approve the new plan and continue negotiations with the Reds and the county.
"Unanimously, county commissioners!" Mayor Lou Ann Palmer said after the vote.
So there is strong sentiment to keep the Reds in Sarasota from the city. But they can't do it with the county money. The county wasn't willing to pledge those funds Tuesday. But it's not quite over. To make it a bit confusing, the County Commission also voted:
--To move on with the plan if it's changed to use only $7.9 million in county money (thus matching the State allocation).
--To advertise an ordinance to change the rules that require a super majority to approve a plan. They'll vote on that in two weeks. If that passes, a 3-2 vote would be needed to move on with the plan and commission would likely do that.
--To put the plan to use the $17.8 million in tourist tax for the renovation of Ed Smith Stadium on the ballot.
"In my estimation, the door is still open," commissioner Shannon Staub said.
The meeting was civilized, but there is strong disagreement. Staub and Joe Barbetta strongly support keeping the Reds. Nora Patterson is against using $17.8 million for the project. She was one that brought up matching the state's $7.8 million. Jon Thaxton also opposes the plan. Paul Mercier voted for it, but he wants a project of bigger scope.
While it's not dead in Sarasota, I would think the Reds are going to continue to look elsewhere. Palmer, who made a presentation at county meeting, urged the commission to give a final decision on the new plan. "We can't continue to play games with the Reds," she said. "We need a decision."
I don't think the Reds would accept a $31 million rebuilding job, which is what Patterson's matching proposal amounts to.