Dunedin may talk to other MLB teams about spring training - WFLA News Channel 8

Dunedin may talk to other MLB teams about spring training

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Both American and Canadian flags fly over the Golden Acres mobile home community in Dunedin. Both American and Canadian flags fly over the Golden Acres mobile home community in Dunedin.
DUNEDIN, FL - Both American and Canadian flags fly over the Golden Acres mobile home community in Dunedin.

The community has a competitive shuffleboard team, but it was another game, baseball, that first brought winter resident Mel Hearns, from Ontario, to Dunedin 17 years ago.

Hearns has season tickets to the Dunedin Blue Jays Spring training games. Stearns hopes the team doesn't move to south Florida.

"I'm hoping they hang in here. If they don't I'll catch a couple of games on the other coast, but that's it. They won't get 17 games out of me," said Hearns.

The Blue Jays have not hidden the fact that they're looking at a deal to move to Palm Beach Gardens after the contract with Dunedin ends in 2017. The team also has two five-year extensions available. But, the city has had difficulty getting the team to the table to negotiate.

Related: Tampa Bay Rays release 2014 Spring Training schedule

"The message to the community is be patient. I'm certainly having to be. It gets frustrating a little bit," said Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers.

Eggers says the city wants to continue its 36-year tradition with the Blue Jays, but is ready to pitch to another team if necessary. "Oh yeah we're going to reach out immediately. We're reaching out, probably in the next couple of weeks to a couple of teams that are available," said Eggers.

Both the Washington Nationals and the Milwaukee Brewers are looking for Spring Training facilities.

A recent economic impact study shows the Blue Jays fans spent $80.3 million on food, hotels, and other entertainment in North Pinellas during the 2013 Spring Training season.

Even if the Blue Jays move, Hearns said he won't leave Dunedin to follow the team. But he believes there's still a chance they'll stay. "I'm not sure they're leaving yet, could be a play for more money," said Hearns.

The mayor said it could be 6-to-9 months before the Blue Jays are ready to sit down to talk.

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