Governor’s Baseball Dinner to be held at CoolToday Park in West Villages on Feb. 16

Florida Sports Foundation event to celebrate new season of Major League Baseball Spring Training in the state

Image from the Florida Sports Foundation website

The 2020 Governor’s Baseball Dinner, “a celebration of a new season of Major League Baseball Spring Training in Florida,” will be held Sunday, Feb. 16, at CoolToday Park, the new Atlanta Braves facility in North Port, the Florida Sports Foundation has announced.

Individual tickets are available for purchase, along with reservations of tables for eight, a news release says. To purchase tickets or reserve tables, a person may visit www.playinflorida.com and click on the Governor’s Baseball Dinner link at the top of the Florida Sports Foundation’s homepage, the release adds. General admission tickets are $100 per person, the website says; VIP admission is $150 per person.

The festivities will begin at 6 p.m. with a reception; the dinner will follow at 7 p.m., the release adds.

CoolToday Park is located at 18800 S. West Villages Parkway in Venice.

Along with DeSantis — who played baseball as a student at Yale University, the release notes — and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, the guest list will include former Major League players and personnel from the 15 teams that hold Spring Training in Florida, the release continues.

A 2018 economic impact survey showed the Florida Grapefruit League brings in $687.1 million each March to the state’s 12 Spring Training locations and attracts 1.5 million fans a year, the release adds.

Spring Training Baseball in Sarasota County dates to 1924, when the New York Giants began playing at Payne Park in downtown Sarasota, the release points out. The team continued calling the park its spring home until 1927.

Payne Park also hosted the Boston Red Sox (1933-42, 1946-58) and the Chicago White Sox (1960-88), the release adds. With the opening of Ed Smith Stadium in 1989, the White Sox moved to that location and stayed until 1997, the release continues. The Cincinnati Reds then played at Ed Smith Stadium from 1998-2008, before the facility’s current resident, the Baltimore Orioles, began playing there in 2010.

“The Sarasota stadium underwent a renovation in 2011 and has been a popular destination for Orioles fans since,” the release says.

The Florida Sports Foundation, a division of Enterprise Florida Inc. and the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization, has partnered with the Atlanta Braves and Sarasota County Sports Commission to stage this year’s celebration, the release explains.

Florida’s sports industry creates more than $57.4 billion in economic impact for the Sunshine State, provides more than 580,000 jobs for its residents and attracts more than 16 million out-of-state visitors each year, the release adds. The Florida Sports Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.

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