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Monday, February 24, 2014

Blue Jays, Astros, Nationals Spring Training Site Musical Chairs

Let’s see if I can make the biggest mess yet with this thread!

LAKE WORTH — Lake Worth city officials think they have a home run of an idea to help revitalize their city and save spring training on Florida’s east coast: A baseball stadium on the shores of Lake Osborne in John Prince Park.

They just need Palm Beach County, which owns the land, to buy into the idea. And that might not happen anytime soon.

...Still, city officials say they are cautiously optimistic about the prospect of the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals sharing a spring training complex on 80-some acres in the 728-acre park just south of Lake Worth Road and west of Lake Osborne.

Place your bets, place your bets!

boteman Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:29 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, blue jays, florida, nationals, spring training

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: February 25, 2014 at 07:13 AM (#4661908)
The Astros are in a lease with Kissimmee through 2016.
   2. Matthew E Posted: February 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM (#4661972)
I wonder what the Jays are thinking. They've been in Dunedin since the beginning, and I know that on the one hand they generally like it, and the fans and people of Dunedin are also happy with them being there... but it's inconvenient for them because the major-league camp and the minor-league complex are not near each other, and from what I've heard there's no way to have them near each other. Which is why they were thinking of moving somewhere else in the first place. So, now, what... have they just decided to put up with it? Are they going to build something else to make it work better?
   3. Howie B. Posted: February 25, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4662005)
This is a great location - right off I-95, about a 20-25 minute drive from Roger Dean Stadium (where the Cardinals and Marlins play), local government support, not much NIMBY potential (other than objecting to losing park space) and it's just a few miles down the road from my house!
   4. villageidiom Posted: February 25, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4662014)
The Astros are in a lease with Kissimmee through 2016.
My father's favorite baseball-related joke is to refer to them during spring training as the Kiss-a-me-ass Stros.

I love my father, but please relocate this team.
   5. snowles Posted: February 25, 2014 at 11:20 AM (#4662020)
@2. I think the Jays and Astros were going to go in jointly on a new stadium, but the city residents had a case of NIMBY and poo-poohed it. So just like the rest of the Jays plans this winter, it's stand pat and hope for the best.
   6. Matthew E Posted: February 25, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4662081)
I had heard that, but my understanding was that it was the Jays who backed out of it. But I don't know why. It's weird with the Jays: they seem to be behaving as though they don't expect there to be baseball anymore a few months from now. What do they know that we don't?
   7. snowles Posted: February 25, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4662095)
Sounds like the Astros have other options available, including going to Arizona, so the Jays probably don't want to fight alone for land that the city seems to have no interest in handing over to the team, and that there seems to be public opposition to happening. Maybe they don't want to engage in a PR war and are just going with the devil they know.
   8. boteman Posted: February 25, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4662128)
I can't understand all the clamoring by local gummints to rearrange the deck chairs for what amounts to 3 to 4 weeks of tax revenue each year. If these facilities are used closer to year-round by their minor league affiliates then it might be a more attractive deal.

TFA states that the key is getting a critical mass of teams (at least 4 teams, from the article) to commit to moving close enough together to make it worthwhile. The whole reason teams have been gravitating toward central Florida is to minimize travel times. This would throw a monkey wrench into those efforts. I think there are too many moving parts for this to pan out.
   9. 'Spos Posted: February 25, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4662129)
It's weird with the Jays: they seem to be behaving as though they don't expect there to be baseball anymore a few months from now.


This may be the only lucid thing I have read regarding the Jays offseason.
   10. Matthew E Posted: February 25, 2014 at 01:21 PM (#4662134)
I can't understand all the clamoring by local gummints to rearrange the deck chairs for what amounts to 3 to 4 weeks of tax revenue each year.
It's more than 3 to 4 weeks; it's more like, what, 6? And it's a big 6 weeks; it's probably responsible for most of the annual revenue for some of these small places. It's a big thing.
   11. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: February 25, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4662146)
If the Astros leave, there's still a team only 20-30 minutes away.

And this image is on billboards all over the area.
   12. boteman Posted: February 25, 2014 at 01:46 PM (#4662147)
Lake Worth, in the instant case, is already an up-and-coming place. I recall visiting a ham radio buddy who lived there back in 1981 and it was a somewhat scary rednecky outpost. These days they are cultivating a more hip image with the requisite night clubs, coffee shops, and festivals along their main boulevard. This happens year-round, not just during the weeks of Spring Training.

Plus, as has been shown with major league baseball parks, the economic boost to the host community is oversold by the project boosters. For a Spring Training facility I can't imagine it's anything better than a slight money drain unless it serves as an operating minor league park--now that I could get behind.

Roger Dean stadium is a good hour and a half trip for me, so Lake Worth would be a closer place to go see a minor league game. There's a good bit of white flight pushing into northern Palm Beach County and Martin County, but even with that growing population there are still just plain more people between West Palm and Fort Lauderdale to attend games in Lake Worth than in Jupiter.

I'd be happy if they can make it all work, I just don't see it happening.
   13. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 25, 2014 at 06:54 PM (#4662447)
It's more than 3 to 4 weeks; it's more like, what, 6? And it's a big 6 weeks; it's probably responsible for most of the annual revenue for some of these small places. It's a big thing.


No it's not, not in the relation to the cost and expense of building and maintaining the facilities year round. Plus all of the revenues aren't incremental, depending upon the location they squeeze out other visitors, but far more importantly the vast majority of revenues go out of town with the owners/players , the ones that remain are almost entirely used for crappy minimum wage jobs.

It's even dumber when they do it in Arizona given most of the revenues aren't incremental, they just push out golfers and conventions that would up have brought in nearly as many visitors. And for that, they pay huge subsidies to the richest people in America?
   14. Howie B. Posted: February 25, 2014 at 08:16 PM (#4662499)
Boteman - this is nowhere near the downtown area, which is one block (Lake/Lucerne) and is all the way east, by US1. This is suburban Lake Worth, west of I-95. Near a rapidly growing, family-oriented area. It is suburbia, with no real culture or nightlife right nearby. But this is easily accessible from the rest of Palm Beach County - Boca, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, etc. which is probably more important.

KT - the revenues from a ballpark also drive local restaurants - like Roger Dean does for the Abacoa restaurants. And if this is anything like Roger Dean, you'd have two high A-Ball clubs sharing the park, plus other events (Roger Dean hosted some preliminary round WBC games).

Plus, as a resident, I have to say that being able to bring my kids to Spring Training only fosters their love of baseball. We get pictures and autographs at Marlins and Cardinals games. And we get also get foul balls (and pictures and autographs), and get to run the bases during Florida State league games. It is very fan friendly, and definitely affordable. As a local who lives maybe 4 miles from the proposed site, I hope we get it!
   15. madvillain Posted: February 25, 2014 at 08:51 PM (#4662514)
Any general thoughts on the Spring Training Experience in Florida versus Arizona? I've heard the argument that Arizona is more condensed, has usually better weather in the spring, nicer (aka newer) facilities, things like that.

And as an aside, I'll be at spring training in Arizona this week. Got tix to the White Sox / Dodgers opener at Camelback and then White Sox / Tribe on Saturday. Headed back on Sunday just making a long 5 day weekend out of it. Looking forward to it, the weather report looks great, maybe a touch of rain over the weekend but low 80's and sun most of the time.
   16. boteman Posted: February 25, 2014 at 10:29 PM (#4662553)
Any general thoughts on the Spring Training Experience in Florida versus Arizona? I've heard the argument that Arizona is more condensed, has usually better weather in the spring, nicer (aka newer) facilities, things like that.

@madvillain - Yes to all the above.

@HelpMeHowieB - I can't agree that Lake Worth is a sleepy backwater (OK, OK, it's south Florida so this whole damned mess is essentially a sleepy backwater) in need of being placed on the map by Spring Training. If I were still a resident of PBC I would only support this proposal if minor league teams occupied the facility as well, but it's a loser for just Spring Training alone. Just you watch carefully where the money goes, it did used to be your money after all.

I learned what an ugly sausage-making process it is to secure a new ballpark when I closely watched the Nationals and the D.C. "government" engage in brinksmanship over new Nationals Park. Perhaps that might be the one publicly financed ballpark that was friendliest to taxpayers and it still has something of a stench about it. What I'm reading about this Lake Worth proposal indicates that it's founded on a lot of hopes, dreams, and popcorn farts.

Without more information it's hard to form any worthwhile opinion, but for my part I think it's a fail if it's only going to be for S.T. games, but a win if it's used for most of the calendar year for minor league games as well. I would definitely attend less expensive, more fun minor league games in Lake Worth as opposed to driving down to Miami to put more money in Loria's pocket to watch games in a sterile, indoor fluorescent green soccer stadium. I'd love to take Tri-Rail up there and do a little railfanning along the way.

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