It appears the attempt to keep the Washington Nationals in Brevard County will be a more difficult chore than some foresaw, as a county tourism committee voters to stop spending hotel-tax revenues on spring training.
Instead, if the committee’s vote is upheld by the full County Commission, $750,000 annually will instead be spent on general Space Coast tourism marketing.
Here’s a summary of what’s going on. (If you want the full story, check out the longer piece on our sister site, Spring Training Online.) The bonds at Space Coast Stadium are slated to be paid off this year. This gives the Washington Nationals to opt out of their lease for Space Coast Stadium in Viera. It’s no secret the Nats braintrust want to see the team move closer to other Grapefruit League teams to cut down on those five-hour bus rides to the Gulf Coast: Kissimmee, St. Lucie and Fort Myers have all been brought up as potential spring homes for the team.
However, some Brevard County officials want to make a play to keep the Nats, even though they’ve not exactly been warmly embraced by the local sports fans. The officials want to look at making changes to Space Coast Stadium and the Barger Complex, perhaps even expanding both to allow another team to train there as well (i.e., the Houston Astros). They’re also looking at some sort of charter air service to allow the Nats to fly to the Gulf Coast for games.
But spending more on spring training may be a difficult sell, as the vote by the Brevard County Tourist Development Council’s Marketing Committee would indicate. And there will be plenty of other heated discussions of spending money on spring training when local schools and governments are facing shortfalls.
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