With the Houston Astros blunted in their first attempt at a Palm Beach Gardens spring-training complex, there’s a question of whether the Toronto Blue Jays will stay committed to the joint venture.
The Astros and Blue Jays joined forces on a new Palm Beach County spring-training complex, with the Astros doing most of the heavy lifting, including the procurement of a $50-million state grant for a new two-team facility. The first proposed location was withdrawn from consideration after neighbors complained about its location — close to an elementary school — and potential impact on protected wetlands. That led the Astros and Palm Beach County to search for a new location; reportedly there are two under consideration.
The delay, however, may lead the Blue Jays to consider staying at Dunedin’s Florida Auto Exchange Stadium — at least, that’s what The Post’s Richard Griffin argues. We have all the details of Griffin’s speculations at our sister site, Spring Training Online, but basically Griffin argues that since the Blue Jays are under no pressure to move — the team’s spring lease runs through 2017, with two five-year extensions possible — they probably won’t.
But the Blue Jays are under some pressure to upgrade their spring facilities. By any measure the combo of Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and the remote Mattack training complex are among the worst in all of baseball. Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is small and lacking in amenities found in other spring-training facilities; it’s also landlocked, which means that the addition of parking or training fields would mean a city decision to tear down a popular library and make additional changes to the area. So far Dunedin has shown no inclination in expanding the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium footprint or funding a new complex elsewhere in the city: there’s simply no large land tracts avaialble. These days a great spring complex is one factor in attracting free agents: Florida is popular with players because of the lack of a state income tax, and being able to train in relatively smooth circumstances
Right now any speculation on the Blue Jays spring-training location in 2018 and beyond is just that: speculation. Some Toronto fans are unhappy with the prospect of the team leaving Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and Dunedin, but the current situation will not hold: it’s unlikely the team will stick with the status quo years down the line.
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