An affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies has purchased a mall next to BayCare Ballpark, the team’s spring home, and the team’s training base, as the Phillies prep for an overhaul of its Clearwater spring complex.
The Phillies have announced their intention to overhaul BayCare Ballpark and the training complex, a development with a tentative price tag of $300 million. The purchase of the Clearwater Collection mall south of BayCare Ballpark, priced at $22.5 million, could be a hint at how the Phillies will approach the development. The mall currently houses one tenant–a Floor & Decor store–and was purchased out of bankruptcy.
There are many possibilities open with the purchase of the mall and its parking. The team hasn’t specified exactly what they want to see in a training-camp renovation; so far all we know is team is requesting funding from Pinellas County’s bed tax. (The bed tax being used for spring training is not unusual: $41.7 million of bed tax money was used to fund renovations to TD Ballpark and an overhaul of the Toronto Blue Jays’ training complex. The budget for that project: $108 million. The bed tax has also been mentioned as a possible funding source if the Tampa Bay Rays end up with a new St. Petersburg ballpark.) The team’s lease at BayCare Ballpark and the Carpenter Training Complex ends in 2023, but as of now the team is focusing on improvements at those facilities.
The mall and the 13-acre site could be renovated as a new gateway to BayCare Ballpark, adding entertainment and dining options for both spring-training and Clearwater Threshers (Single-A; Florida State League) games. The mall could also be torn down to make way for a more spacious entrance to the ballpark while adding more office space and expanding the ballpark’s footprint to the south. The team has also propose moving all player-development staff and facilities to Clearwater, expanding facilities while perhaps adding a player dorm to the mix. (This would be similar to what the Minnesota Twins did in Lee County in setting up a year-round training complex, but in this case the team paid for the new player dorm.)
In any case, adding 13 team-owned acres to the mix provides more options to any final site design.
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