A local report has the New York Mets potentially leaving Port St. Lucie for spring training unless St. Lucie County stops changing the terms of renovations to First Data Field, which the pair had agreed to in 2017.
The Mets and St. Lucie County have spent the last few years discussing a spring training facilities project that includes renovations to First Data Field and the adjacent complex. Player facilities at both the complex and ballpark would be upgraded, while First Data Field would see improvements to several fan amenities. The cost of the project was originally estimated to be $55 million, and the Mets would commit to staying in Port St. Lucie through 2042.
St. Lucie County has already approved borrowing $60 million to upgrade First Data Field with a 360-degree concourse, better accessibility via escalators and elevators, a player dorm, upgraded team offices and more, securing a $20 million state grant for the work. The Mets and St. Lucie County have had to negotiate some terms after initial plans came in over budget, prompting discussions about a scaled-down renovation before a final budget of $80 million was made the new target. In this case, St. Lucie County has sought to have the Mets assume more of the renovation costs. The Mets had already agreed to increase their share by $2 million, but then county officials came back and asked for an additional $400,000 without committing to a final budget. That led to the following, as reported by TCPalm:
If the County Commission on Tuesday fails to approve the revised project and financing, the Mets will take back that $2 million, pull out of the agreement and begin looking for a new Florida spring training location, according to the source.
St. Lucie County also would lose a $20 million state grant it received for the stadium renovation.
County spokesman Erick Gill declined to comment on specifics of the talks, but said, “We understand (the Mets’) frustration, but we are equally frustrated. We hope to continue to work with the New York Mets. We have to make a compromise that benefits everyone — not just the Mets, but the residents of St. Lucie County.”
The Mets have had only two spring-training homes since joining the National League: Al Lang Field in downtown St. Petersburg (1962-1987) and Port St. Lucie (1988-present). The presence of New Yorkers retiring to the area is cited by local officials as an economic factor.
In addition to hosting spring training for the Mets, First Data Field also serves as the regular season home of the St. Lucie Mets (High A; Florida State League).
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