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Astros invoke Arizona move in spring-training discussions

Houston AstrosWith a preferred Palm Beach Gardens location off the table, Houston Astros team lawyer Giles Kibbe says he plans on visiting Arizona in the next few weeks and will probably meet with folks pitching a Phoenix-area home for the team.

We have more about Kibbe’s comments on our sister site, Spring Training Online.

If you hang around pro baseball enough, you learn how many meetings between teams and municipalities are conducted behind the scenes. With good reason: teams don’t like to tip their hands when it comes to potential moves.

So when a team announces beforehand that they might be meeting about potential new home, it’s not as though transparency is suddenly in vogue. It’s a signal to another municipality that they should be taking a potential move seriously and subsequently pick up the pace of negotiations. Now, in this case, the Astros want to see Palm Beach County move on one of the three alternative locations to the rejected Palm Beach Gardens site. We don’t think the Astros are yet serious about shifting to the Cactus League, but these comments are intended to raise the possibility. And we don’t foresee the Toronto Blue Jays shifting spring operations to Phoenix.

Now, in terms of fan accessibility, Phoenix and Orlando are pretty equal when it comes to airline access, but Orlando is three hours closer for those who drive. It’s generally easier to get around Phoenix for spring training, but add together the away games in Viera, Disney World and Lakeland, and Astros fans don’t need to spend too much time in the car for spring training as it is.

Here’s where things stand: Palm Beach County has indeed identified three alternative sites for a spring-training complex in Palm Beach Gardens, and a Boca Raton development has pitched another site. Given that a final plan needs to be in place by the end of 2014 for a 2017 opening, it seems there’s plenty of time to work out a deal without invoking Arizona as an alternative at this time.

RELATED STORIES: Boca Raton site pitched for new ‘Stros/Blue Jays spring complex; Search on for new Palm Beach County site for ‘Stros/Blue Jays spring complex; Crane: Astros close to finalizing Palm Beach training site; Florida approves $50 million in aid for new Astros, Blue Jays spring-training complex; Big night for Astros; big year ahead; Blue Jays: We’re looking for new spring home


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