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Blue Jays want to upgrade spring facilities

Club meets with Dunedin representatives to discuss future of Spring Training home
MLB.com @gregorMLB

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays and representatives from the city of Dunedin met earlier this week to discuss the future of the club's Spring Training complex in Central Florida.

Toronto's lease at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium expires at the end of 2017, and the facilities are in need of renovations. The Blue Jays have been on record for several years stating their preference is to remain in Dunedin, a place they've called home since 1977, and that stance has continued under president Mark Shapiro.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays and representatives from the city of Dunedin met earlier this week to discuss the future of the club's Spring Training complex in Central Florida.

Toronto's lease at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium expires at the end of 2017, and the facilities are in need of renovations. The Blue Jays have been on record for several years stating their preference is to remain in Dunedin, a place they've called home since 1977, and that stance has continued under president Mark Shapiro.

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Shapiro resumed negotiations on Wednesday with the hope of eventually coming to an agreement.

"Our priority is to figure out a solution in Dunedin and whether that is an evolution of the current arrangement or just an improvement in the renovation of the current arrangement," Shapiro said.

"There are so many good things in the tradition and in the pride of having been here, yet we have a need to balance that with what's best for the Toronto Blue Jays and we need a 365-day home for rehabilitation and training that is state of the art. That is a potential competitive advantage, and that is truly something that allows us to establish a culture."

Dunedin receives most of its attention during the spring, but the facilities are used all year. Toronto uses the complex to rehab injured players throughout the season, while prospects often play there deep into the summer months for extended spring camp. Florida Auto Exchange Stadium also is the host ballpark for the Class A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays.

One of the major problems is that the Bobby Mattick complex is not attached to the stadium. The two locations are approximately a 5-10 minute drive away from each other, and during the spring it forces the players to dress at one location and then take a bus to the other. The lack of space in Dunedin will make it difficult to change that arrangement, but there are other solutions that could be used to alleviate the concerns.

One possibility would be creating a state-of-the-art clubhouse at the Bobby Mattick complex so that players can set up shop in one location during the opening weeks of camp. Another would be a complete renovation of Florida Auto Exchange Stadium to improve the comfort level of players and fans alike. It's an expensive proposition, and that's why the Blue Jays and Dunedin need to work in conjunction with each other.

"There are realities that may be charming about our current situation, but that charm is not going to bring wins," Shapiro said. "So we need to be in a situation where we modernize our facility and have the ability to ingrain a culture that's player focused and player centered. They understand that. They've been very receptive, and we're going to have to work hard and work together to get that done, but I'm optimistic that will happen."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Toronto Blue Jays