Unless there are some unexpectedly large pots of money sitting around, it doesn’t look like there’s any public money available in Palm Beach County for a new Braves spring training facility.
The Braves have retained a real-estate consultant to identify potential sites for a new Braves spring training facility, and meetings were held with reps from several counties on the Treasure Coast and the Gulf Coast. The Braves currently train at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex in Disney World, a situation where the team went from being the center of attention to just another attraction at the sports-tourism mecca. With a lease up in 2017, the team is sending out feelers for a new home.
But it doesn’t look like Palm Beach County will be the destination, despite the team’s long run of training in West Palm Beach before the move to Disney. The issue: with the county funding a new Washington Nationals/Houston Astros complex, there’s not much extra in the way of revenue sources to fund what looks to be a $95 million, single-team site. In addition, the issue of funding improvements to Roger Dean Stadium, spring home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins, will certainly come up in coming years: the heavily used complex is in sore need of some upgrades. Jupiter will probably be asked to contribute hotel-tax revenues toward upgrades.
If the Braves don’t end up in Palm Beach County, a move to the Gulf Coast seems to be more likely, with Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties on the team’s radar. Lee County, which has funded a new Boston Red Sox complex and a renovation of the Minnesota Twins spring complex, doesn’t appear to have any money for more sports facilities: county officials said there wasn’t a penny for City of Palms Park upgrades when the Washington Nationals approached them in 2014, and little has changed since then. Charlotte County upgraded the old Texas Rangers spring site for the Tampa Bay Rays, and Collier County was mentioned as a potential home for a new Red Sox spring training site before the team settled on Fort Myers. An Atlanta move to, say, Naples would be interesting: Fort Myers is already bursting at the seams with spring-training fans, and the Braves’ presence would provide a very nice and very convenient four-team cluster.
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