SBJ/February 27-March 4, 2012/Research and Ratings

On Deck

Teams to watch for spring training story lines in the coming years

CACTUS LEAGUE

Milwaukee Brewers (lease expires 2012)
The team has played in Phoenix since 1982 and at its current home, Maryvale Baseball Park, since 1998. The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority has allocated $6.7 million for renovation of the venue, but the Brewers must agree to a long-term lease to remain at the ballpark in order to access those funds.

San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners (January 2014)
The Peoria Sports Complex opened in 1994 as spring training’s first shared facility. The city has hired Populous to design a modernized facility and has $36 million in a capital improvement fund aimed at that effort.

Oakland A’s (2014)
The A’s have exclusive negotiating rights with Mesa until May 15 for use of HoHoKam Park, which the Cubs are departing, as early as 2015. Despite a $6.4 million renovation in 2003, the infrastructure at the A’s current home, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, still dates to its opening in 1964, making it the oldest venue in the Cactus League. A’s owner Lew Wolff has business interests in Mesa, most notably the Hyatt Place hotel. The team also trained in Mesa for 10 years beginning in 1969 before moving to Scottsdale and then to Phoenix.

GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE

Houston Astros (2016)
The Astros’ previous ownership had business interests in Osceola County, the club’s spring training home, but with Jim Crane acquiring the club from Drayton McLane last year, that link no longer exists.

Washington Nationals (2017)
All eyes are on the Nationals. The team can move from Brevard County if its stadium debt is paid by 2013, and the club is on track to have that happen. Local officials are aware of talk that the Nationals could be attracted to St. Lucie County to share what would be an expanded complex with the Mets, or do the same with the Astros in Osceola County. For their part, team officials have said they want to keep their options open.

Minnesota Twins (2020)
The team has told Lee County officials that their existing facility, Hammond Stadium, needs to be updated and expanded. The county bought 14 acres last year near the ballpark to help satisfy that request and hired Populous, the architect that designed the Twins’ Target Field in Minneapolis, to devise a master plan.

St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins (2027)
The clubs have shared a complex in Jupiter (Palm Beach County) since 1998 and signed a 10-year extension last year, through 2027. It includes an opt-out clause that allows them to leave town if either the Mets or Nationals leave the state’s east coast.

— David Broughton

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