New video board to be installed at Ed Smith Stadium before start of Baltimore Orioles’ 2024 Spring Training season in Sarasota

County Commission approves estimated expense of close to $1.1 million

Fans watch the Orioles play the Mets on March 25, 2019, the final game of that Spring Training season at Ed Smith Stadium. File photo

With the Baltimore Orioles returning to Sarasota County early next year after winning the American League East title, the Sarasota County Commission this week unanimously approved the expenditure of an estimated $1,095,281 for a new video board at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, where the team conducts Spring Training.

The vote came in the form of the board’s approval of its Oct. 24 Consent Agendaof routine business matters.

“The video board and control system are anticipated to be installed and operational by the start of Spring Training season on February 24, 2024,” a county staff memo said. On that date, the Orioles will face the Boston Red Sox at Ed Smith Stadium.

The funding is available through the county’s budget for its sports stadiums, the memo — which was included in the Oct. 24 agenda packet — pointed out. The money in that budget comes out of the Tourist Development Tax — or “bed tax” revenue — that the county receives from rentals of accommodations for six months or less time in the unincorporated areas of the county.

For most years over the past decade — excluding the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — the Tourist Development Tax revenue collections have set records. This year, as The Sarasota News Leader has reported, the revenue is on track for yet another record.

The County Commission seated on July 22, 2009 approved a 30-year Memorandum of Understanding with the Orioles for a 30-year lease of Ed Smith Stadium, which stands at the intersection of 12th Street and Tuttle Avenue in Sarasota, the Oct. 24 staff memo noted. During the past 14 years, the memo continued, “the County and the Orioles have developed an effective working relationship, offering sports and recreational programming that provides positive economic benefit to the community and enhances the quality of life for residents and visitors to Sarasota County.”

Then the memo explained that a Facility Condition Assessment of the Ed Smith Stadium complex was conducted in 2018 by an outside contractor called ZHA. That assessment, the memo said, “concluded that the video display board on the stadium field, which is a Sarasota County capital asset, was nearing the end of its useful life and that the entire video board system would expire in 2023. The average lifespan of this type of asset is approximately 8-10 years. The board was first used in 2011,” the memo continued, making it seven years old at the time of the assessment “and [12] years old today.”

Ed Smith Stadium, located at the intersection of Tuttle Avenue and 12th Street, is the Baltimore Orioles’ Spring Training home in Sarasota. File photo

“Over the past five years,” the memo added, “the Orioles have repaired the video board as needed to extend its useful life …” However, the memo said, within the past 18 months, “replacement parts have become obsolete and are no longer available. Repairing the board is no longer an option for it to perform the way it was intended and at Major League Baseball quality standards,” the memo pointed out. “Due to the present condition of the board, a full replacement is necessary prior to the start of the 2024 Spring Training season.”

Therefore, the memo said, the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department (PRNR) staff “would like to purchase a new video board and control system from Daktronics at a total cost of $1,095,281.00 …”

“Daktronics is an industry leader, providing videoboards and scoreboards for a majority of professional and collegiate stadiums across the country,” the memo noted. “Additionally, Ed Smith Stadium’s current videoboard and control system are Daktronics products.”

PRNR staff has been working with the county’s Procurement staff and the Office of the County Attorney in negotiating the terms of the Daktronics contract, the memo added. After all the terms have been negotiated and all of the necessary documents — including a Daktronics Software service agreement and a software license — have been completed, the memo continued, “PRNR intends to request that a Purchase Order be issued to Daktronics,” which will include a payment schedule and a schedule for the project to take place.

For this contract, the county will be “piggybacking” off a solicitation through Sourcewell, a State of Minnesota local government agency and service cooperative, a separate Sarasota County document explained. (That document also was included in the Oct. 24 meeting agenda packet.)

“Sourcewell is authorized to establish competitively awarded cooperative purchasing contracts on behalf of itself and its participating agencies,” that document added. “As a participating agency, Sarasota County realizes timely access to competitively awarded nationally leveraged cooperative purchasing contracts,” the document said.