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Brevard County: We’ll spend $29M to keep spring training

Space Coast Stadium

Brevard County will reach out to every MLB team in an effort to keep spring training in Viera, as officials face the loss of both Space Coast Stadium tenants.

The Washington Nationals have already informed Brevard County that the team will be leaving Space Coast Stadium, citing the driving distances required for both MLB and MiLB squads during spring training. A pitch for a new Kissimmee complex fell through, but there’s little doubt the Nats want to be in a more centralize locale. That leaves Brevard County to seek a new tenant, and the effort will consist of a pitch to the other 29 MLB teams to consider a move to Viera and a renovated Space Coast Stadium. From Spring Training Online:

Of course, it’s highly unlikely the Seattle Mariners or San Diego Padres will shift spring operations to Brevard County, much less teams wrapped up in long-term leases in Florida, like the Minnesota Twins or Boston Red Sox. Indeed, when running down the list of team that could possibly leave their current homes and commit to Brevard County, the list is alarmingly short: the Houston Astros (set for a Palm Beach Gardens move), the Toronto Blue Jays (who reportedly are partnering with the Astros in Palm Beach Gardens), the St. Louis Cardinals or Miami Marlins (assuming they break their Roger Dean Stadium lease because of a lack of teams training on the Treasure Coast — something very unlikely to happen), or the…Washington Nationals.

Brevard County is facing a double whammy when it comes to tenants, as the Brevard County Manatees (High Class A; Florida State League) have openly been seeking a new home for several years, focusing on the greater Orlando area. The Manatees have been linked with Rollins College in ballpark efforts, and the latest chatter has the ‘Tees sharing a renovated Alfond Stadium with the Tars. Now, we’re a little skeptical of the idea: Alfond Stadium is a small facility sitting on a very small footprint in a busy retail area. In other words, it’s landlocked as all heck. We’ve been there for summer-collegiate games, and a small crowd of 400 or so completely taxed the limited parking next to the ballpark. Take a look at the ballpark location — except for a city yard north of the ballpark, you’re looking at housing, retail and Lake Midget totally surrounding the existing ballpark footprint:

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Still, the small footprint isn’t stopping consideration of the plan. From the Orlando Sentinel:

A new study, commissioned by Rollins, Winter Park and the Manatees’ owner, estimates the cost of upgrading the stadium at $14 million but doesn’t recommend a specific way to pay for it. Luring the Manatees would mark the return of minor-league baseball to Metro Orlando, which hasn’t had a team since 2003.

The study was conducted by the Madison Group, an Illinois company that has done consulting work on other minor-league ballparks. The stadium also could host tournaments for youth, high school, collegiate, amateur and semi-pro leagues, the study stated….

Nearly as significant an obstacle as money could be parking, an issue the study raises without offering solutions. Parking is already in short supply in the neighborhood, and the stadium is bounded by homes, businesses and Lake Midget.

Now, we actually love the location of Alfond Stadium: hitting a Rollins game during spring training is always fun, as is a summer-collegiate game. Whether the ballpark can be improved to where it meets MiLB standards for $14 million — and with enough parking to placate neighbors — is another matter.

RELATED STORIES: Lee County to pitch Nat again on City of Palms Park; Osceola County rejects new Washington Nationals spring-training complex; Osceola County delays vote on new Nats spring facility; Tourism Board approves new Nats spring-training facility; New spring complex pitched for Osceola County; Nats petition to end Viera spring lease; Osceola County solicits bids for new spring complex; End of the line for Space Coast Stadium?; 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; New Winter Park ballpark scrapped — for now; Developer pitches new Winter Park ballpark; Brevard County Manatees, Rollins College discussing new ballpark;


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