A land swap that could lead to a new Houston Astros/Washington Nationals spring-training complex will be due for review by West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County bodies next week.
The swap appeared to be dead after the two government entities couldn’t agree on the terms of a land swap. Palm Beach County, which has already committed $108 million in hotel taxes toward a new Nats/Astros complex, wants to trade two acres of prime downtown land to West Palm Beach for 160 acres of less desirable land. West Palm Beach officials had rejected the trade previously. Now, a trade at hand, we’re expecting to see votes next Monday and Tuesday.
With the two sides agreeing to talk, a potential deal progressed quickly; there’s a term sheet in place with the following conditions for a 30-year lease, per the Palm Beach Post:
- The county will issue $135 million in bonds. The County Commission in October agreed on the other major component of the baseball project, voting to allocate $108 million in revenue from the county’s bed tax to help finance the complex. It will provide $3.6 million in bed tax money and a $5 million cash payment for preconstruction costs.
- The state will provide $2 million a year for 25 years.
- The teams will pay $2.2 million a year for eight years.
- The county will built a city park on 12.2 acres.
West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County can’t fulfill the term sheet on its own; the state will need to come through on its own. Still, things are moving fast, per the Palm Beach Post:
The Astros and Nationals had hoped to break ground in March on 160 acres south of 45th Street. But County Administrator Bob Weisman said: “I don’t see any way that can happen because you’ve still got to go through permitting.”
Weisman, however, said it was still “possible” that work could start in time to allow the teams to finish their $135 million complex in time for Spring Training 2017.
The Houston Astros currently train at Osceola County Stadium, while the Washington Nationals train at at Viera’s Space Coast Stadium. Both have leases that expire in coming years.
Getting a team back into West Palm Beach has ramifications past the two teams. Right now there are four teams — Washington, the Mets, St. Louis and Miami — training on Florida’s Treasure Coast. If that number dips to three, those teams have out clauses in their spring-complex leases, freeing them to move elsewhere. A new West Palm Beach complex keeps spring training on the Treasure Coast for years to come.
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