The fate of a new Houston Astros/Toronto Blue Jays spring-training complex has a wide impact: it could affect the future of spring training for the Cards, Mets and Marlins on the Treasure Coast.
With the Washington Nationals ownership determined to leave Viera and Space Coast Stadium (a move that seems to have stalled recently), a move by the Nats would leave only three teams training on the Treasure Coast: the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins at Palm Beach’s Roger Dean Stadium, and the New York Mets at St. Lucie’s Tradition Field. And that would trigger a clause in the Cards/Marlins lease allowing them to leave Roger Dean Stadium.
But if the Astros — either alone or with the Blue Jays — move spring training to a new Palm Beach County complex, that sets up a nice four/five team cluster that benefits both the teams and the fans. The Mets’ Terry Collins is rooting for the Astros to move to Palm Beach County. Right now the Mets play 19 out of 33 spring games against other Treasure Coast clubs, and it apparently gets pretty monotonous for all involved, per the TC Post:
“I think it would be huge for us,” Collins said of adding two new teams to the east coast. “Not only is it the same three teams, they’re in our division. We’re always playing the Nationals, we’re always playing the Braves, we’re always playing the Marlins. The Cardinals, we don’t see them very much during the season, so that’s different, but it just changes the whole way spring training is.
“You can go 45 minutes down the road instead of an hour and a half someplace else. It changes the way spring training is run. Guys don’t mind going 45 minutes, but if you have to go to the other side of the state to play a game, it’s pretty tough to find the big boys that want to go over there.”
Currently the Astros and Palm Beach County officials are looking for a new spring-training site, probably close or in Palm Beach Gardens, after an initial proposed site raised opposition for its proximity to a school and protected wetland. There’s no huge hurry: the Astros’ lease at Osceola County Stadium doesn’t end until 2016, which means 2017 is the target date for a new complex opening. That means decisions on location and funding need to be completed by the end of 2014.
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