Training fields

Repairs to Sarasota County MLB training grounds will cost $10 million


Damage to Cool Today Park includes a missing letter B from the Atlanta Braves backboard.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — Several parks in Sarasota County have reopened after suffering water and wind damage from Hurricane Ian. But dozens still remain closed weeks after county leaders get an estimate of repair costs.

County-owned Ed Smith Stadium suffered some impact from the storm, including its roof. But managers with the Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources said damage is quite extensive at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota and Cool Today Park in North Port.

“HVAC system, roofing, water intrusion, obviously lots of fencing, lots of broken or damaged signage that we’re working on,” said Nicole Rissler, director of parks, recreation and natural resources for Sarasota County.

Damage to Cool Today Park includes a missing letter B from the Atlanta Braves sign at one of the entrances, apparently renaming the Major League Baseball team the “Atlanta Raves”.

Cool Today Stadium is one of 65 parks in Sarasota County still closed after the hurricane, with approximately 130 open or partially open.

“Snookhaven is one of those that is partially open, so our kayak launch and boat launch have been reopened to the public. The area around the restaurant and river house remain closed,” said Risler.

In addition to developed parks with playgrounds, gymnasiums, and sports fields, many county parks include nature areas, preserves, and trails on more than 50,000 acres of land.

“We have to make sure the trails are clear as you can imagine, we have thousands of acres and you have downed trees, we want to make sure they are safe,” she said.

Park managers said many of their parks have significant insurance coverage, but they are still compiling repair costs and have a preliminary estimate of the starting cost of repairs so far.

“All of our parks, including our three main facilities at Cool Today Stadium where the Atlanta Braves play, Ed Smith Stadium and Nathan Benderson Park, we are over the $10 million mark for the cost of repairs and I anticipate that will continue to increase,” Rissler said.

Some of the parc fermés are used for disaster recovery efforts. County officials hope the baseball diamonds will be ready and repaired in time for spring training.

The North Jetty Park, which also had extensive debris of vegetation, reopened last weekend while the South Lido reopened on Friday. The county says it is prioritizing reopening parks with the most recreational requests.

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