After Palm Beach Gardens politicos made it abundantly clear a preferred spring-training site there would not work, Houston Astros officials say they’ll look for other sites in Palm Beach County.
The Astros had settled on Palm Beach Gardens parkland as a preferred site for a spring-training complex to be shared with the Toronto Blue Jays, but the site generated plenty of opposition from neighbors, who objected to traffic so close to an elementary and changes to protected wetlands. As a result, in December Palm Beach Gardens stopped all work on the project and asked Palm Beach County to look for a new site.
The initial response from the Astros was to continue to advocate the site and bring up the specter of an Arizona shift to move things along. That didn’t do much to change to conversation, so today we have a new strategy from Astros attorney Giles Kibbe, the man in charge of the spring-training search: The Astros, too, will be looking for a new spring-training site, preferably in Palm Beach County. From MLB.com:
“Obviously, our preference is Palm Beach Gardens and still is,” Kibbe said. “We’re open to looking at different sites in Palm Beach County. If they come forward with something that fits what we need, we’ll be interested in making that work. I have to move forward and look at all options throughout Florida and throughout Arizona.”
The team would like to leave Osceola County Stadium at the end of its current lease that expires in 2016, but that means construction on a new site would have to begin by the end of the year, Kibbe said. The facility would have to be completed in January 2017….
“We’re really looking broadly throughout the county to determine, ‘What’s the best site available for this project?’ and then once that decision is made, and that evaluation is complete, we’ll start focusing on locking things down for whichever site,” Kibbe said.
The Astros and Blue Jays will need a publicly owned site of 100 or so acres, enough for 12 practice fields, a ballpark, parking, clubhouses, and more. A Boca Raton developer has pitched his city as perfect for a training site, though he’s not pitching public land as of now.
There’s a powerful financial incentive to stay in Florida: the state has committed $50 million toward a two-team complex, or roughly half the cost of a facility. There is still plenty of time to strike a deal: a final agreement needs to be in place before the end of the year so construction can begin.
RELATED STORIES: Astros invoke Arizona move in spring-training discussions; 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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