Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s administration has "presented state officials with plans" to build an $80M ballpark development for the Triple-A PCL Nashville Sounds "on the old Sulphur Dell site," according to a front-page piece by Rau & Garrison of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. According to the plan, the "preliminary goal" is to have the $40M ballpark and a $10M Metro Council-financed parking garage "constructed in time" for the Sounds’ '15 opening day. The project "includes a residential development" built with at least $30M in private funds. Sulphur Dell is the "original home of professional baseball in Nashville, and minor league and Negro league teams played there dating back to the 1860s." Dean’s office "could unveil the proposal as early as Sept. 12 at a state building commission meeting." The city-built garage would have "between 500 and 750 spaces" and would be "available for use by state employees." Other details of the financing arrangement, including "how much money would come out of taxpayers’ pockets, were not included." The plans involve an "ambitious but tentative timeline that would see Metro Council approve the project in November so construction could begin next year." The ballpark "would open months before Dean’s second term as mayor comes to an end" if things "go according to the schedule." The council earlier this year "extended the Sounds’ lease for the team’s use of the city-owned, aging Greer Stadium" through '16 (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 8/22).
The Rays own a 114-foot electronic billboard near Tropicana Field that has "run afoul of Florida's advertising laws and may have to be taken down," according to Anna Phillips of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Florida Department of Transportation officials said that the problem is the team is "running advertisements for other businesses such as a local car dealership, violating a state law that requires signs over a highway to advertise only for the business at that location." Officials in June "sent the team a notice of violation, giving the ball club 30 days to remove the sign or pay the $4,800 cost for the state to take it down for them." The Rays were "able to postpone any action from the state by submitting two permit applications." But FDOT officials indicated that both of those applications were "found incomplete" (TAMPABAY.com, 8/20).
YOU COULD BE MY SULPHER SPRINGS: In Tampa, Varian & Danielson report Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist wants the Rays to consider the "former dog track in Sulphur Springs" as a possible location for a new stadium. Crist: "I'm just saying this is an alternative that makes sense. I think we should put it on the table and look at it." The track is "just a few miles north of downtown and served by three Interstate 275 exit ramps." Crist said that it is "surrounded by acres of parking lots and aged commercial strips on both sides of the interstate, and a stadium could be just the thing to spur nearby investment in what has been a longtime sea of blight" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/22).
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).