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Lee County pitches Nats on spring-training move

City of Palms Park

Lee County officials are once again pitching Washington Nationals brass on a move to the vacant City of Palms Park, but there are no plans yet for the team to shift from Viera’s Space Coast Stadium.

The information comes from Lee County Commissioners pursuing another MLB team for spring training. How much serious interest there is on the part of the Nats remains to be seen: talk is cheap (outsiders would be surprised at how much talk goes on between folks like the Lee County folks and MLB teams; they’ve also reached out to the Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros over the past few years), and it’s not as though the Nats aren’t openly looking for a new spring home. Indeed, in the last year team officials have announced their dissatisfaction with Space Coast Stadium’s location and talked with Osceola County about a new shared complex just outside the Disney World boundaries.

County officials expect to make a fuller report to the entire body later this month.

On the one hand, there’s a lot of appeal to City of Palms Park: spring travel would be minimized because of the proximity of Red Sox, Twins and Rays spring-training facilities; the team would probably be a strong draw; the ballpark is in decent shape; and we’re guessing Lee County would sweeten the pot a little to lure the Nats. On the flip side, using a practice facility totally separate from the ballpark makes for a logistical challenge; and the neighborhoods surrounding both the ballpark and the training facility are not the greatest. The Nats really haven’t had a solid game plan for spring training since the Lerner family took control of the franchise: after taking control of spring training away from the Brevard County Manatees (High Class A; Florida State League) front office, spring at Space Coast Stadium is marked by small crowds and late schedules.

The Nats‘ 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.

Photo: City of Palms Park during Boston Red Sox spring training in 2010.

RELATED STORIES: Is Nats, Brevard County marriage over?; Nats go public with desire for new spring-training facility; Nats, Astros eying new Osceola County spring-training complex; Could Cards, Marlins leave Treasure Coast?; Kasten: Nats definitely looking for new spring home


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