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.
RELATED STORIES: Nats, Osceola County talking new spring-training facility; Nationals in talks for new spring-training site; will leave Viera; Early setback in attempt to keep Nationals in Brevard County; Prepping for spring training; Lee County commissioner: Nats unlikely to move to Fort Myers; Kissimmee pitching two-team complex for spring training; Nats, Lee County to keep continue discussions on spring training; Nats: We’re still interested in Fort Myers — if spring complex is upgraded; Pro baseball an endangered species in Viera?; Twins, Lee County negotiating over player dorms, naming rights at spring-training complex; Twins sign 30-year spring-training lease extension; Lee County: Twins spring-training improvements hinge on state grant; Twins present spring-training wish list to Lee County; Lee County to Nats: We really, really love you; If Nats leave Viera, will other teams follow?; Lee County commissioner: “50-50” chance Nats will move spring ops to Fort Myers; Lee County, Nats to meet about spring training; Lee County applying for state ballpark-improvement grant; Lerner: Fort Myers is tops on our spring-training wish list; Gammons: Nats present spring-training wish list to Lee County; 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
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a subscriber to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.