Orioles' partnership with Sarasota County proves valuable for both parties

Spring Training.jpg While the Orioles' location of spring training operations in Sarasota County began as a back-up plan of sorts, it has become a valuable and uniting force between the O's and the county. When the Orioles failed to lock down a long-term deal with the city of Fort Lauderdale for spring operations more than five years ago, they began to look west. "We did the deal (with Sarasota in 2009) because the (Orioles) ownership felt it was such a good community and such a good fit for the fan base, and it was an equally good fit for the player development function," Orioles executive vice president John Angelos said in an interview with PressBox. download.jpgAnd a good fit it has been. While there were many original obstacles or steps to be taken to move the O's to the Gulf Coast - including more than $31 million of renovations to Ed Smith Stadium, local government approval, the allure of spring training in Arizona and more - the Orioles have helped transform tourism and baseball in Sarasota. Another reason the partnership has been successful is the influence of MASN, according to Virginia Haley, head of the Sarasota County visitors group. "Without the opportunities from the Orioles and MASN, we could never afford to advertise Sarasota to the Baltimore-Washington market. That's an expensive market," Haley told PressBox. "The partnership with the Orioles has driven traffic to our website, visitation has grown and it's not just for the time that there's spring training." Since the Orioles first started operations in Sarasota, the county has seen a huge growth in tourism, game attendance and more. Some O's fans, since learning to love Sarasota after attending spring training games, are even looking to purchase homes in the county. "I think my wife and I will take a look," Towson, Md., resident Bill Jones told PressBox. "They have some of the best beaches in the world, good restaurants, there's a good amount of cultural activity, including the performing arts, and of course, the fact that the Orioles have their spring training home there is a big plus." To see the O's full impact on Sarasota, read the PressBox article in its entirety or check out more on the O's efforts in the Florida community.

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