In his final remarks as president of the Washington Nationals, Stan Kasten held out the possibility that the team would relocate spring-training operations from Viera to another Florida site — or perhaps even Arizona.
The team’s lease at Space Coast Stadium and the Carl Barger training complex doesn’t expire until 2017, but the team can move early if it pays off construction loans — currently valued at $765,000 a year and scheduled to be paid off in 2013. Since the earlies the team can move is 2012, there’s a minimum of two years of bond payments to be made.
Viera certainly is not the most convenient place to train: it’s about a hour from Orlando, where the Braves and Astros train, and more than an hour away from Port St. Lucie, where the Mets train. With teams cutting down on spring-training travel, the Nats spend a lot of time playing against these three teams. A move to the Gulf Coast would cut down on the travel.
The interesting thing: Kasten is holding out Arizona as a potential spring home of the Nats. It certainly would be a hardship for Nats fans to drive to Arizona, as Florida is considerably closer. But, then again, the Nats fans certainly aren’t showing up to Florida anyway, and we’re guessing the vast majority of them fly. What’s another couple hours on a plane? Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time an East Coast team trained in Arizona: the Baltimore Orioles (1954, 1956-1958), Boston Red Sox (1959-1965) and New York Yankees (1951) at one time trained in Arizona.
Kasten also brought up Vero Beach as a possible destination, but we don’t see it happening: if he thinks Viera is remote, he’s not spent much time in Vero Beach. Still, we expect a lot of chatter and wishful thinking from the folks in Vero over a potential move of the Nats to Holman Stadium, and of course it won’t be long before Fort Myers makes the pitch to have the Nats move to City of Palms Park.
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribers to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter see features before they’re posted to the site. You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.