The inevitable departure of the Washington Nationals and the ballpark’s relatively isolated position could mean the end of Space Coast Stadium, as Brevard County officials struggle with the future of the facility.
With the Brevard County Manatees (High Class A; Florida State League) on the hunt for a new Orlando home, there’s the very real possibility that the ballpark, originally built as the spring home of the Florida Marlins, could end up without a major tenant. The Nats have not made an official announcement, but Brevard County officials say the team will be moving spring-training operations to a new Kissimmee complex, perhaps as early as 2015. With construction bonds for the complex plaid off, the team is able to sever its lease with a fairly modest payment. Despite some offers of modest assistance from the county for ballpark improvements, the team was set on a move. From Florida Today:
Under an early version of the state’s stadium funding bill, Anderson said, the Brevard County Commission essentially could have blocked the use of state funds by Osceola County to build a stadium for the Nationals, if the Nationals left before their lease at Space Coast Stadium was up.
Florida Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Suntree, said he understands that “Brevard County is going to be a significant loser” in the fallout from the Nationals’ move that is partially financed by the state. But he said he supported the bill, which came out of the House Finance and Tax Subcommittee that Workman chairs.
“This is about what serves the Grapefruit League, not what serves counties,” said Workman, referring to the 15 major league teams that hold spring training in Florida. The other 15 major league teams hold spring training in Arizona’s Cactus League.
Of course, if you’re a Nats fan, you’re probably a little excited about a new ballpark and training complex in Kissimmee, where there are a lot more entertainment and hotel options. Thing is, Viera residents never really showed up in droves to support to the Nationals — and with a relatively remote geographic location, the ballpark was a tough sell for years.
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