The potential move of Washington Nationals spring training to Kissimmee progressed on two fronts this week: the team basically gave notice on Space Coast Stadium and Osceola County issued an RFP for a new facility.
It’s no secret the Nationals want out of Viera; the team’s lease to train at Space Coast Stadium and the Carl Barger complex expires at the end of 2017, but the Nats can buy out the remainder of the lease once ballpark bonds are paid off. The Nat submitted a proposal to the county to indeed end that lease in 2014, but apparently Brevard County officials see this as the beginning of negotiations, per Florida Today:
County commissioners on Thursday night received details of a proposal from the Nationals to get out of their lease, but they didn‘t like what they saw, and instead appointed Commissioner Robin Fisher to help represent the county’s interest on the continued negotiations.
“We’re going to play a little hardball,” Fisher said after the meeting.
As part of the deal that briefly was on the table, the Nationals would have given the county the control the team has over the practice fields, training complex and common areas surrounding the county-owned stadium.
In the end, we’re guessing the Nats will need to come up with the money specified in the lease for the buyout; it appears this first proposal did not come up with the full amount.
It’s also been no secret Kissimmee and Osceola County have been looking to attract a new team for spring training. Kissimmee businesses have quietly been pushing the issue for more than a year now. As we’ve reported in the past, the Nationals are not interested in playing at Oceola County Stadium once the Houston Astros move; it’s small and already partially leased to a third party using the ballpark most of the year. A new ballpark was specified in the RFP. It’s also possible the Brevard County Manatees (High Class A; Florida State League) could also be part of the deal; team ownership has been seeking a new home in the Orlando area as well. The county has quietly issued an RFP for a new complex, and the results of this request should be made public in the next 30 days.
Given the timing of these moves, you’re potentially looking at new Nats spring-training complex opening in 2015.
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