The Toronto Blue Jays’ 115,000-square-foot Player Development Complex in Dunedin, unveiled in early March, has everything a Major League Baseball team needs to stay sharp, in shape and focused. The Canadians’ training center has also got a local touch: Original artwork by St. Petersburg’s Ya La’Ford.
Ford was commissioned to create a pair of installations for the $102 million renovation and expansion project, which was part of the Blue Jays’ 2017 renewal contract with the city – the team, which has been coming to Dunedin since 1977 (a MLB record), is now committed to train in Dunedin for another 25 years.
At the entrance and in the front corridor of the complex are Ford’s relief sculptures of the team logo, the Toronto skyline and the word “Equality.”
In a statement, the artist said that designing and creating the work was an honor. “The artwork installed explores the themes of connection between competitive athleticism, unconventional art, culture and performance,” she said.
“Believing in the emotional impact of line, I intended to create visual elements that inspire people to experience a diverse range of emotions based on shape, pattern, form, depth, and movement of the line and its nature.”
Paid for in part with funds from Pinellas County tourist development tax ($42 million), the state of Florida ($14 million), the city of Dunedin ($5.66 million) and the Blue Jays (more than $20 million), the renovation project included significant upgrades of nearby TD Stadium, where spring training games are played.
Because the U.S./Canada border is closed due to Covid precautions, the Blue Jays will play their first regular season homestand games – in April and May – at TD Stadium.