Construction of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is still on schedule for a January 2017 opening, but the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are prepping backup plans in case something unexpected happens — say, an extended tropical storm or hurricane that delays construction.
Right now the focus is on a worst-case scenario delaying the opening of the ballpark in January. In past years, this may not have been a huge issue, but after delays in the opening of Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford this year attracted the attention of both MiLB and MLB officials, there is certainly a greater sensitivity on planning for potential delays.
For both teams, it looks like the backup plan to return to 2016 training facilities — the Astros to Osceola County Stadium and the Nationals to Viera’s Space Coast Stadium and the Barger training complex. It helps that no changes are planned for either facility in early 2017: Osceola County Stadium is set to host High-A Florida State League action for the relocating Brevard County Manatees in the regular season, and the USSSA had not proposed any changes to Space Coast Stadium yet. The Astros don’t have a formal deal with Osceola County yet. From the Palm Beach Post:
As recently as two weeks ago, Astros President Reid Ryan spoke to an Osceola County Stadium official about extending the team’s lease there for 2017 in case the West Palm Beach complex isn’t ready.
“We have talked about if they’re not ready then what could be done,” said Don Miers, Osceola County’s director of sports and events facilities.
“Barring a tropical storm, they think they’ll be OK. They’ve just got to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” Miers said.
The Nationals, on the other hand, do have an option to play at Space Coast Stadium, per the Post:
The Nationals last year negotiated a right to extend their contact with Space Coast Stadium in Viera for 2017 “if due to unforeseen circumstances” the West Palm Beach stadium wasn’t ready, said Art Fuccillo, a Nationals partner….
“At present the project is rounding second base and sprinting for home as fast and as hard as we can. We expect to be safe at home,’’ he said. “The county, the teams and the contractors are all working together and all have one definitive goal — 2017.’’
Again, no one expects any delays in the opening of the ballpark for spring training — but it’s always good to plan for the worst-case scenario.
Rendering courtesy HKS.