SBD/August 22, 2013/Facilities

Palm Beach Gardens Eyeing Purchase Of Potential Astros Spring Training Site

Palm Beach Gardens has asked Palm Beach County "to consider selling the city an 82-acre site" where Astros Owner Jim Crane "wants to move his team for spring training," according to Capozzi, Howard & Roach of the PALM BEACH POST. The request is "the first necessary step" in such a move. Palm Beach Gardens City Manager Ron Ferris said that the city "wants to buy the land from the county regardless of whether the site is used as a two-team spring training complex" for the Astros and Blue Jays. But discussions about the proposed $100M stadium "call for the city to own the land and help pay for the project with tourism-generated revenue from the county bed tax." Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council Exec Dir Glenn Jergensen said that there is "enough money in bed-tax reserves to pay the debt-service on bonds for a Gardens stadium until the end of 2016," when about $2.05M a year currently going to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter will become available. The Astros "would share the proposed site" with the Blue Jays, "giving Palm Beach County four teams within a 3-mile drive." Palm Beach Gardens city council member David Levy said that "substantial sums of money are needed to build a spring training stadium and that the city does not plan to spend city taxpayer money on it" (PALM BEACH POST, 8/21).

OPEN PALMS: In Florida, Thomas Himes reported Lee County officials "hope to pack City of Palms Park with a redevelopment pitch" to the Nationals. The franchise "became a free agent" after Osceola County commissioners threw out the team’s hopes for a new stadium. Lee County "can’t afford to upgrade the Fort Myers venue," but County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that he is "hopeful financing this time around can be found in plans to redevelop the neighborhood surrounding the ballpark." The Nationals "may be more willing to play ball" after Osceola County's decision on Monday. The team's lease to play at Space Coast Stadium in Brevard County expires in '17 (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 8/21).
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