Of course, it’s highly unlikely the Seattle Mariners or San Diego Padres will shift spring operations to Brevard County, much less teams wrapped up in long-term leases in Florida, like the Minnesota Twins or Boston Red Sox. Indeed, when running down the list of team that could possibly leave their current homes and commit to Brevard County, the list is alarmingly short: the Houston Astros (set for a Palm Beach Gardens move), the Toronto Blue Jays (who reportedly are partnering with the Astros in Palm Beach Gardens), the St. Louis Cardinals or Miami Marlins (assuming they break their Roger Dean Stadium lease because of a lack of teams training on the Treasure Coast — something very unlikely to happen), or the…Washington Nationals.
So we’re talking about a very small audience to receive pitches from Brevard County, where officials are attempting to show what $29 million in upgrades to Space Coast Stadium will do:
The Space Coast Office of Tourism is working with Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher, local amateur sports organization leader Rusty Buchanan and a marketing agency on the effort, which will include preparing an artist’s conception of what the stadium could look like with $29 million in upgrades….
Fisher and other county officials are proposing $29 million in renovations to the stadium in an effort to keep the Nationals in Viera, to attract another team to replace them or to have two teams share the stadium for spring training. The renovations would be funded through refinancing the stadium, revenue from the county’s 5 percent tax on hotel room rentals and matching state funds available for stadium projects designed to keep spring training in Florida.
Of course, there’s one thing $29 million won’t buy: a closer location to other Florida Grapefruit League teams. We’ve received plenty of email from Brevard County enthusiasts who argue Viera is not that far away from other teams, but the fact remains location is a huge factor for teams plotting their spring-training futures. The Nats aren’t leaving Space Coast Stadium because it’s a dump, but because the team is tired of long rides to play anyone other than the Mets and Braves in spring training. Brevard County will have an uphill battle to attract another team to replace the Nationals.