Palm Beach County Commissioners voted to move ahead with a $100-million plan for a new Houston Astros and Washington Nationals spring-training complex, but lots of work needs to be done on the funding plan.
The new complex would be located in Lake Worth, which is located south of Palm Beach and in the middle of Palm Beach County. The addition of the Nationals and the Astros to the area would keep the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins in the area and set up a nice cluster of teams on the Treasure Coast. While many MLB teams are seeking to cut down their spring-travel travel time, the Nationals and Astros would benefit from proximity to Roger Dean Stadium and Tradition Field, while making a trip across the state to Fort Myers and Port Charlotte a manageable 2.5 hours.
Still, despite the vote, funding for the complex remains murky at best. First, the much-ballyhooed state grant of $50 million — approved by the State Legislature last year — has a ton of conditions on it: it doesn’t start for three years, and it runs for 37 years. That’s too long for any county to plan on, as there’s little chance either the Nats or the Astros would commit for a 40-year lease. So the plan is to approach the state to change the terms of the grant, as well as other changes that would allow the county to implement a special taxation district to address the remaining $50 million needed to build the complex.
So we have a long ways to go.
Still, if you’re a spring-training fan, this is a very positive move. Neither the Astros nor the Nationals have been able to build a spring-training community near their spring home like the way the Red Sox brought fans to Fort Myers, the Twins to Naples and the Cards to Jupiter. If you’re an Astros or Nationals fan, the ability to buy a condo in Palm Beach County — in Lake Worth, Boca Raton or Jupiter — should be appealing: it’s one of the nicest areas of Florida, and opportunities to be close to the spring home of your favorite team. There’s already nonstop service from Palm Beach International to Houston and Washington, D.C., so you’d be set.