SBD/March 5, 2013/Facilities

Northern Palm Beach County Being Eyed As Possible Site For New Spring Training Complex

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche on Friday said that an MLB team is “looking into establishing Spring Training facilities in Northern Palm Beach County, possibly in Palm Beach Gardens,” according to Andreassi & Pfahler of TCPALM.com. Valeche did not disclose the team or teams involved, but "confirmed discussions have included an 82-acre site" near I-95. He said, “I would say it’s, right now, kind of a long shot, but we’ll see how things develop. It would probably be a year or two before anything happened, I would think, because it’s construction and everything.” Valeche and other Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast officials said that a new Spring Training facility in northern Palm Beach County “could help keep the other four MLB teams on the East Coast of Florida.” The Cardinals and Marlins train in Jupiter, while the Mets' camp is in Port St. Lucie and the Nationals' in Viera. Losing one of the teams to either Florida's West Coast or Arizona “could prompt the other teams to leave the East Coast because of concerns about travel time for Spring Training games.” The Palm Beach Gardens site “is four miles south" of Jupiter (TCPALM.com, 3/1). In West Palm Beach, Bill DiPaolo reported a “host of issues ... would need to be resolved before a team relocates to the area.” Among them are "whether the city, county or team would pay for the stadium -- which would cost well into the millions -- and whether local roads can handle the traffic the stadium would generate.” The stadium site also “would have to pass environmental and zoning reviews” (PALM BEACH POST, 3/2).

LOOKING FOR PLAYING PARTNERS: In Florida, Jonathan Mattise noted the Mets and Cardinals can “head elsewhere if three or fewer teams train nearby.” The Mets have been “talking with the Houston Astros as a possible partner.” Astros Owner Jim Crane “toured the facility last spring." However, Crane, who owns the Floridian Golf Club in Palm City, has "expressed interest in building a new two-team facility elsewhere on the East Coast.” Three of Florida’s 15 Spring Training clubs “have leases up for renewal in 2016 and two are up in 2017.” Six teams have “ditched Florida for Arizona since 1998” (TCPALM.com, 3/3).

CACTUS LEAGUE UPDATE: In Phoenix, Joe Martin reports a “wave of renovation contracts could be stepping up to the plate as the Cactus League looks to keep its teams happy and push millions of dollars in economic benefit to its communities.” It all is “geared toward not being picked over by other cities looking for new cash flows, just as the league did by targeting teams in Florida’s Grapefruit League for its expansion.” The difference is “noticeable" between the older and newer stadiums. The new facilities “are more fan-friendly, with individual seats and open concourses that allow patrons to see the action on the field even while they’re buying a drink or a hot dog.” Cactus League President Mark Coronado said that the league “needs to be in a position to help provide funding for up-to-date renovations for the teams and ballparks.” He added that it is “'critical' for the league to work with the state and local governments to make sure funding is adequate” (PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/1 issue).
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