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Orioles and Sarasota Tomorrow Next announce leadership investment

SARASOTA, Fla. Seeds planted by The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce blossomed into a success-making return on investment for the community today, thanks to the Baltimore Orioles.

In a generous investment to help secure a more prosperous future for greater Sarasota, the Baltimore Orioles organization has pledged $150,000 to Sarasota Tomorrow Next, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce's regional economic and community development initiative. The announcement came at a press conference at Ed Smith Stadium on June 25.

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David Rovine, Vice President of Orioles-Sarasota, said, "Since relocating our year-round Florida operation to Sarasota in 2010, we have expanded our efforts to improve this region's economy, create jobs, and help families. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce has helped us grow roots in Sarasota, and we are pleased to support the 'Sarasota Tomorrow Next' initiative to better the region's business climate and economy."

"Two major elements in Sarasota Tomorrow Next focus on enhancing the sports tourism economy and preparing our youth for the future -- priorities the Orioles share," said Rovine. "We support the Chamber's drive to expand sports and recreational opportunities and tourism in the area. Preparing young people for the future through the Talent 4 Tomorrow initiative also appeals to us." Talent 4 Tomorrow is a pre-kindergarten through "Grade 20" post-secondary education and training program.

John Cranor, co-chair for Sarasota Tomorrow Next, noted that the Orioles have had a presence in Sarasota for 20 years, culminating in the move to Ed Smith Stadium for spring training and year-round operations in 2010.

"Sarasota is a year-round home for the Orioles' players and staff, and a popular destination for Orioles fans from around the country," Cranor said. "The Chamber recognized the economic powerhouse the Orioles represented when our Sarasota Tomorrow initiative worked to bring the ballclub's year-round operation here."

The construction projects to renovate Ed Smith Stadium and the Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex created nearly 500 local jobs and nearly $54 million in construction-related economic impact. In addition, the club's year-round events and athletic training program generates up to another $50 million in annual economic tourism impact throughout the Sarasota community. The Orioles' partnership with Visit Sarasota County provides a multi-platform, multimedia marketing package valued at more than $1 million annually to promote tourism in Greater Sarasota among residents of the team's Mid-Atlantic territory, Cranor said.

"The Orioles have made a multi-million-dollar investment in Sarasota - by participating substantially in the cost of the renovation projects, relocating the organization to Sarasota, and attracting the marketing might of MASN radio and television to promote our tourism economy," Cranor added.

According to Orioles ownership representative Louis Angelos, the Chamber's Sarasota Tomorrow leaders and resources invited the Orioles to greater Sarasota, prepared economic impact studies that portrayed benefits that would come from the relocation, and helped bring about the combined complex renovation projects.

"Sarasota Tomorrow has been pivotal in all that the Orioles and the greater Sarasota community have done together," Angelos said. "We look forward to continuing the successful partnership by advancing Sarasota Tomorrow Next's progress towards a full economic recovery and prosperity in the region."

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