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Homestead Sports Complex Slated for Scrap Heap

Homestead Sports Complex

After several reuses and severe thumpings from two different hurricanes, Homestead Sports Complex — once slated as spring-training home of the Cleveland Indians — is likely to be torn down, with the Miami suburb soliciting bids for demolition.

Costing $21 million, the Homestead Sports Complex opened in 1991 as the city worked to bring spring training to Homestead. It initially worked: the Cleveland Indians signed a 20-year contract to shift spring-training operations to Homestead in 1993, at a time when several teams trained in southeast Florida. But when Hurricane Andrew wreaked havoc in Miami-Dade County in August 1992, it caused enough damage to the Homestead Sports Complex and the 6,000-seat ballpark to the point where the Indians cancelled their lease. Despite efforts to woo a new tenant, no MLB teams showed much interest in shifting spring training to Homestead. There were some abortive attempt to reposition the complex (it was used as a temporary police station, for instance), but further damage from Hurricane Irma pretty much sealed the deal to demolish the facility,

It does seem like an unusual move: at a time when Florida sports complexes are hot commodities and youth/high-school/college tournaments have turned into a big business in places like Cocoa, Vero Beach, Viera, Orlando and Fort Myers, there’s not a path toward some level of renovation. (La Ley Sports once held rights to use the facility as a youth sports complex, but that company’s financial issues ended that lease.) Still, the climate does cause buildings in Florida to age prematurely if not diligently maintained, and it doesn’t sound like the complex was diligently maintained. From the Miami Herald:

After Hurricane Irma caused more damage to the empty structure last year, the City Commission asked [Homestead Parks and Public Works Director Dennis Maytan] to do a feasibility study on the complex. “It’s a money pit,” Maytan admitted. Five out of the six options that came back in the study involve tearing down the ball park.

So the city solicited demolition bids. Four companies offered their services with price tags ranging from $594,800 to over $1 million. The commission could discuss the bids at its July 10 meeting but won’t be able to make any final decisions until July 25 at the earliest. Maytan says he thinks the demolition will move ahead. What will replace the stadium remains to be seen. The city could try to sell the land, but it cannot be developed for most purposes because of being in the crash zone of the air base. Maytan hopes it will become a park.

“It breaks my heart to hear that they are looking at an option to demolish it,” said [said Alex Muxo, city manager of Homestead when the complex was planned and built]. “Do we wish things would have turned out different, yes. But you can’t change nature and what happened.”

Photo by Adrian Salgado, used under a Creative Commons license.

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