Orioles' Spring Training Stadium Deal Helps Sarasota County Tourism Industry
A "groundbreaking deal" between the Orioles and Sarasota County (Fla.) is "increasing the number of tourists depended upon to pay off spring training renovations" at the team's Ed Smith Stadium, according to Chris Wilkerson of the TAMPA BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL. Sarasota's "ability to get more out of its relationship" with the Orioles is "an example of how to maximize what we have and could serve as a template for municipalities looking to get more visitors to hotels that help pay for expensive baseball stadiums through the bed taxes they collect." Orioles Exec VP John Angelos said that MLB teams are "not doing enough to partner with their spring training cities." Angelos: "I had looked at the deals (between cities and teams) and it struck me that they only ever had provisions for soft marketing and that was a missed opportunity." He added of the political process of building stadiums with hotel-bed tax money, "I didn't much like the vibe of the thing. The politicians come into this with a certain expectation and there was a lot of dissatisfaction with the process." Wilkerson notes the Orioles worked out a deal that gives Visit Sarasota an annual $1M media buy with MASN, which broadcasts Orioles and Nationals games. Visit Sarasota Dir of Sports Nicole Rissler said, "We are seeing huge visitor returns and market penetration. Our entire budget is only about $5.4 million, so (a $1 million ad buy) is huge" (TAMPA BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/29 issue).