SBD/April 23, 2013/Facilities

Florida Proposes $50M For Spring Training Facilities; Funding May Keep Teams In State

Florida has spent more than $40M in the past decade on Spring Training incentives
Florida House budget writers yesterday proposed "boosting the state cash available for new or improved spring training facilities," with a potential deal providing $50M in "state money over a 37-and-a-half-year period for stadiums catering to two teams," according to Jonathan Mattise of TCPALM.com. One-team facilities could "qualify for" $20M over 30 years. Local governments would "have to match the state’s help," and the state would "set aside" about $3.3M each year in retention money, starting in the '15-16 fiscal year. With both chambers "in agreement, the spring training cash is all-but-certain to show up in the final budget lawmakers will vote on next week." Keeping Spring Training strong in Florida also has been a "priority for Gov. Rick Scott." The $50M is $10M "higher than lawmakers had previously discussed" (TCPALM.com, 4/22). The AP's Gary Fineout noted Rep. Ritch Workman "defended the proposal as a way to keep teams from relocating to the Cactus League in Arizona." He said that more and more MLB teams in Florida are "looking to locate close to one another to cut down on travel time." Florida already has "spent more than" $40M in the past decade on "spring training incentives, but the state put a cap on the amount of money and number of cities that could qualify for the funding" (AP, 4/22).

WHO IT BENEFITS: In Orlando, Aaron Deslatte wrote the deal will be "especially sweet" for the Astros and Blue Jays, who are "both seeking to build a new ballpark in Palm Beach County or move to Arizona." The Astros would "get incentives to the tune of an extra $10 million over about 37 years to move from Kissimmee to Palm Beach Gardens." Both teams said that the new state aid would "make it possible" to stay in Florida (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 4/22).
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