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If Nats leave Viera, will other teams follow?

Major League BaseballWith talks continuing between the Washington Nationals and Lee County about a spring-training move, folks are inevitably wondering if the Cardinals, Mets or Marlins will follow.

It’s a natural question: the Cards and Marlins have a clause in their leases for Roger Dean Stadium the right to talk away for greener pastures if fewer than four teams are training on the Treasure Coast. The loss of the Nats would leave three — triggering an escape clause for the pair. Of course, Brevard County or St. Lucie County could lure another team to Space Coast Stadium and the Carl Barger Complex to replace the Nats — under Drayton McLane‘s ownership, the Astros were exploring alternatives to Osceola County Stadium — but with teams looking to cluster spring-training operations on the Gulf Coast, this isn’t the most likely of circumstances.

In fact, it’s been suggested that Collier Country — which encompasses Naples, just south of Lee County — revive plans to lure spring training to area, plans originating in an unsuccessful effort to bring the Chicago Cubs from Mesa. David Moulton makes this argument here, though he’s incorrect on one key point: state money devoted to spring training cannot be used to poach a team from another Florida city, so forget about using $15 million from Tallahassee to attract a team. However, multiple teams have future spring-training plans up in the air — besides the Astros, the Milwaukee Brewers should be available by the time any new complex opens — and Collier County can make a pretty compelling economic argument for using tourism taxes to pay for a new $105-million spring-training complex.

But don’t write off the Treasure Coast just yet. We’re not so sure the Miami will seek to bail on Jupiter: Marlins owner Jeff Loria lives in the area and is a fixtgure at Fish spring matches. Can’t see him pulling up stakes and moving the team to Naples. Similarly, the Cards have a pretty good setup in terms of roots in the community. And we can’t forget that both the Marlins and Cardinals run High Class A Florida State League teams out of Roger Dean Stadium: given MiLB’s territorial rules, we can’t see that happening in Naples. 

RELATED STORIES: Lee County commissioner: “50-50” chance Nats will move spring ops to Fort MyersLee County, Nats to meet about spring trainingLee County applying for state ballpark-improvement grantLerner: Fort Myers is tops on our spring-training wish listGammons: Nats present spring-training wish list to Lee CountyIs Nats, Brevard County marriage over?Nats go public with desire for new spring-training facilityNats, Astros eying new Osceola County spring-training complexCould Cards, Marlins leave Treasure Coast?Kasten: Nats definitely looking for new spring home


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