Two new teams could be training in the greater Orlando area by 2015, as Osceola County officials receive a pitch for a new $98-million spring-training complex.
It’s no secret the Washington Nationals have been working with HKS on plans for a new complex; it’s also no secret the Nats want to be out of Viera’s Space County Stadium in the near future. The proposal from HKS — which didn’t specify a tenant — calls for a 9,000-seat ballpark, 10 full practice field, and two 200-room hotels on a site 1.5 miles east of downtown Kissimmee. The total cost wasn’t specified, but it’s believed to be in the $98-million range.
The second team in the mix could be the Toronto Blue Jays, who reportedly have also been negotiating with the Houston Astros on a new Palm Beach County spring facility. The Blue Jays are seeking a new home once their Florida Auto Exchange Stadium lease ends. From Florida Today:
County officials said the proposed complex could generate a $173.6 million annual economic impact if the site housed two major league teams.
That compares with an estimated $65.6 million 2013 spring training economic impact for the Houston Astros, a team that plays at the Osceola County Stadium.
Gary Pearce, director of operations for the Osceola County Department of Tourism Development, said the new baseball complex could attract more than 200,000 fans for spring training each year if the Nationals and the Toronto Blue jays moved their operations there, one of the scenarios the county studied.
A new complex could also address the desires of the Brevard County Manatees (High Class A; Florida State League) for a new Orlando area ballpark, though any revenues generated by the Manatees aren’t part of the HKS pitch. Orlando now is the largest U.S. market without professional baseball, although some measures include Daytona Beach as part of the larger Orlando market.
Right now there’s no funding plan or budget set; the Osceola County Board of Commissioners was briefed on complex plans with a request to spend $6.5 million in county room tax money to fund preliminary architecture work. The county had solicited bids from a select number of developers and architecture firms on a new complex; what HKS submitted was in response to the RFP.
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