Palm Bay (Fl.) Mayor John Mazziotti want to see a privately financed ballpark in his city for a Florida State League team, but it will be a tough sell.
Palm Bay (Fl.) Mayor John Mazziotti want to see a privately financed ballpark in his city for a Florida State League team, but it will be a tough sell in this economy.
Palm Bay is down the road from Viera, where the Brevard County Manatees (High Class A; Florida State League) play in Space Coast Stadium. The Manatee are the tenants of the Washington Nationals, who hold spring training at the ballpark and the nearby Carl Barger complex.
It's no secret the Orlando-based Manatees ownership has been looking at a move, discussing a new ballpark with some Orlando suburbs. (Orlando is apparently a tantalizing open market; Ripken Baseball was talking with city management in the last six months about the possibility of a publicly financed ballpark.) But there's not a lot of money floating around Florida for new ballparks these days, especially Orlando; tourist taxes are down, and Mayor Buddy Dyer has made it plain that the city's priorities will be finishing the new Orlando Magic arena and building a new downtown performing-arts center. A renovation of the Citrus Bowl may be put off because of revenue shortfalls.
Palm Bay is regarded as a better everyday baseball market by many in the area; Palm Bay residents already make up many attendees of Manatees games, and there's a strong youth baseball program there. (Viera is made of mostly of retirees, by contrast.) The original plan was to have the Manatees move to Orlando, with another FSL team slipping into Palm Bay.
But we've heard that plan is dead, and if any team is to move to Palm Bay, it will probably be Brevard County.
Not that anyone is moving any time soon. As we mentioned, Palm Bay Mayor Mazziotti is pushing for a 2,500-seat, privately financed ballpark. That's not going to fly for the Florida State League: No one is committing capital for a privately financed facility, and in any case 2,500 seats won't be enough to justify the expenditure of $15 million or more toward a new ballpark meeting pro-baseball standards.
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