Astros owner Jim Crane says Triple-A ball could be in the Houston area by 2016, and announced that planning a new spring-training home to be shared with the Toronto Blue Jays is in the final stages.
The Astros have been working with an area developer on a plan that would include a new Triple-A ballpark; Johnson Development has purchased 2,000 acres of land just north of The Woodlands for new construction. While that area is part of the greater Houston area, it's still a good distance from downtown Houston (where the Astros play) and presumably give the Astros good access to players while not attracting too many fans from Minute Maid Park. From MLB.com:
"As soon as they get closed, we hope to sit down and try to bang out a deal where we would have some property to build a facility there and eventually put a Triple-A team in there," Crane said. "It could take some time. The earliest is '16, maybe '17.
"It's going to take a while to get all the permits and everything in place. We're certainly interested in doing it. We think it makes long-term sense for the team to have the Triple-A affiliate reasonably close and in a vibrant area that's really growing."
The Astros, who have a player development contract with Triple-A Oklahoma City through 2014, would have to purchase a Triple-A club and move it into that area once a Houston-area facility is ready.
Talk has centered on the New Orleans Zephyrs (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) as the team to be bought and moved, but that may be a little premature given the timing.
Meanwhile, the team has announced it expects a new spring-training complex in Palm Beach Gardens to be shared with the Toronto Blue Jays to open in 2016 or 2017, with the Blue Jays officially signing a letter of intent to share the facility. We have lots more information about that development on our sister site, Spring Training Online.
RELATED STORIES: Crane: Astros close to finalizing Palm Beach training site; Florida approves $50 million in aid for new Astros, Blue Jays spring-training complex; Big night for Astros; big year ahead; Blue Jays: We're looking for new spring home; Crane: Triple-A ball could be coming to Houston area
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