Space Coast Stadium is getting ready for a new era, as the former spring training and Minor League Baseball facility has landed a new tenant.
Opening in 1994, Space Coast Stadium hosted 23 seasons worth of spring training action–first for the Florida Marlins from 1994-2002, followed by the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals from 2003-2016. While the Nationals’ departure brought an end to the facility’s run for spring training, Space Coast Stadium will now be put to use by the U.S. Specialty Sports Association (USSSA).
Starting with a groundbreaking next month, Space Coast Stadium and the surrounding complex will undergo a renovation as part of a $32 million project. USSA, which will relocate from the Osceola County Stadium complex in Kissimmee, will invest $22 million. Brevard County, meanwhile, has agreed to cover the remaining $10 million in costs–which will include turf and lighting upgrades–as part of a reworked agreement between the two parties. More from Florida Today:
By handling the transaction this way, there will be no sales tax on the turf and lighting purchase, since the county is exempt from paying sales tax. That would save $600,000, if the supplies are purchased in a community that has a 6 percent sales tax. USSSA said it would put the money that is saved back into the project.
“It wouldn’t add a new obligation to the county,” Brevard County Attorney Scott Knox said.
Knox also said the improvements to the stadium “directly benefit the county,” because, under the lease agreement, the county will have use of the stadium for 75 days a year.
The USSSA has guaranteed the county that its own events would generate 75,000 nights of hotel room rentals in its first year of operation, and 100,000 a year by its third year of operation. Assuming a hotel room rents for an average of $100 a night, that would generate $375,000 in Tourist Development Tax in Year 1 and $500,000 a year by Year 3.
Under the original terms, the county was to use Tourist Development Tax funds to reimburse USSSA for those costs.
Through the end of last season, Space Coast Stadium also hosted regular season games for the Brevard County Manatees (High A; Florida State League). The Manatees have relocated to Osceola County Stadium, and are now known as the Florida Fire Frogs.