The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals received approval to move forward with a new West Palm Beach spring-training complex, with a groundbreaking now set for early November.
The Palm Beach County Commission approved the sale of bonds for the $144-million projects this week, clearing the way for construction to begin. The two teams will fund construction work until bond proceeds are applied to the project.
With work beginning, the assumption is that the project will open for spring training 2017, which means 2016 is the last spring for the Astros in Kissimmee’s Osceola County Stadium and the Nationals at Viera’s Space Coast Stadium, barring some unforeseen development. This was confirmed by a statement from Nats owner Mark Lerner:
“The Washington Nationals are extremely pleased to be partnering with Palm Beach County and the Houston Astros on their new spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. Today, we cleared the final hurdle of the funding process when the Palm Beach County Commission unanimously approved the sale of the construction bonds required to fund part of the $148 million dollar facility. Now, we can move forward with construction – which we expect to begin in the next two weeks. The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is scheduled to open in January 2017 and will be the Nationals home for spring training for many years to come.”
The move by the Nats and the Astros means spring training should thrive in eastern Florida for years to come; there’s now a five-team cluster in the general area, with the New York Mets training in nearby Port St. Lucie and the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins training in Jupiter. This probably won’t be the end of spring-training upgrades in Palm Beach County — the Cards and Marlins have hinted at potential upgrades to Roger Dean Stadium — but for now the Nats and Astros have a clear path to a 2017 move.
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