With it looking like the Brevard County Manatees (High A; Florida State League) will end up in Kissimmee next season, pro baseball would stay in Brevard County down the road if a proposed Titusville ballpark and events center at Sand Point Park becomes a reality.
Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher is pitching the $25-million facility, which could potentially attract other investment to downtown Titusville as well (indeed, Fisher says a hotelier is interested in a downtown Home2 Suites if the project proceeds). The location is scenic, to say the least: as you can see from the above rendering, the ballpark would be at the base of the Max Brewer Causeway, in downtown Titusville. (For those unfamiliar with Florida’s coast: Titusville is directly east of Orlando and west of Cape Canaveral. It’s home to the Kennedy Space Center.) Fisher says he’s working with another investor group to bring High-A baseball and women’s fast-pitch softball to a new ballpark, while the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) — which is moving into Space Coast Stadium from Osceola County Stadium — would also run tournaments there.
The big issue: rounding up funding sources for the facility. From Florida Today:
Still, there will be arguments and probably a power struggle or two over where the $25 million would come from in coming years to finance construction. Fisher’s plan:
- $5 million would come from the baseball club.
- $10 million would come from the North Brevard Economic Development zone. That’s a sprawling redevelopment district formed to cope with job losses and blight after the end of the space shuttle program. It is funded by incremental growth in the tax base.
- $10 million would come from the Tourist Development Tax, a 5 cents-per-dollar charge on hotel rooms and vacation rentals in Brevard. By statute, the “fourth cent” of that tax must be spent for two purposes: marketing to tourists and supporting professional sports facilities. That’s how the county built and paid off Space Coast Stadium.
As for whether it would work economically…
The economic zone just produced an economic-impact study of the proposal. That document concludes that a combination stadium and “multi-use event facility” in Titusville would increase room nights in regional hotels by 42,000 per year, add $20.8 million in annual spending by spectators and event attendees, and increase local sales tax collections by $1.74 million a year.
No word on what team could be on the move. There are certainly FSL teams on the market that could be moved as soon as 2017.
Speaking of Osceola County Stadium: the soon-to-be former spring home of the Houston Astros is poised to host Florida State League baseball for the first time since the Kissimmee Cobras closed up shop in 2000. Osceola County officials say they have a three-year lease for a pro team to move into Osceola County Stadium in 2017, and while nothing has been officially announced, insiders say the Manatees are indeed the team on the move. No surprise: Manatees ownership has sought to move the team into the greater Orlando market more than once — most recently to a renovated Alfond Stadium in partnership with Rollins College — and most recently talked with nearby Palm Bay about a new ballpark. The greater Orlando MSA is #24 in the country. Technically, it’s not the largest without pro baseball: the Daytona Tortugas (High A; Florida State League) are in the greater Orlando MSA, but you could make a strong argument that the more specific Orlando/Kissimmee/Sanford city is the largest in the United States without pro baseball. A move of the Manatees to Kissimmee would address this potential market need.