THE BALLPARK OF THE PALM BEACHES
|Capacity||To be announced|
|Dimensions||To be announced|
|Local Airport||Palm Beach|
|Ticket Prices||To be announced|
|Tickets on Sale||To be announced|
|Ticket Web Site||astros.com/spring|
|Address||1000 Bill Beck Blvd., Kissimmee, FL 34744|
|Directions||From I-4, take Route 192 west off of the Florida Turnpike or east off of I-4. The ballpark is 1.5 miles west of the turnpike and two miles east of downtown Kissimmee.|
Houston Astros Spring Training: Moving to the Treasure Coast
It will be a totally fresh start for Houston Astros spring training, as the team shifts operations from Kissimmeee to West Palm Beach and a brand-new facility, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
But first: a moment for Osceola County Stadium, spring home to the Astros for many years:
There is a great baseball tradition in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County. The Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos once trained out of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium, and there are plenty of other traditional public spaces in the area, like traditional golf-court clubhouses or beachside resorts that popped up once the railroad connected Florida to the East Coast. The decision was made to eschew a more ornate design like Spanish Mediterranean and go for a more streamlined look at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the new spring home of the Houston Astros.
Because of the high water table – this is Florida, after all – it wasn’t possible to go down very far, so the decision was made to go up, in a very subtle manner, which led to a concourse level some 14 feet above the parking-lot and playing-field levels. As fans are moving through the training fields and to the ballpark’s front entrance, they’re gently moving up in elevation and traversing bridges before they reach a promontory that looks upon the plaza and a lake.
Speaking of the plaza: It certainly is a signature item in the ballpark design, a place for fans to gather and meet both before and after the game. It’s some 34,000 square feet on all levels, offering an inviting entrance to the ballpark on the third-base side. And, in this age of the selfie, we predict two other signature items off the plaza (as seen in the above site rendering) will prove to be immensely popular: 20-foot-tall logos in front of each team’s entry area.
Once inside, fans will see a seating bowl, a 360-degree concourse 20 feet wide and both team clubhouses. It will not be a huge ballpark, with 6,400 fixed seats and room for 1,000 more on the outfield berm. Nor is it a ballpark with an undue emphasis on premium seating: there will be six suites (three on each side of press box) as well as covered party decks down each line. The suites are not traditional suites: the windows will open to the playing field, giving them a more Florida feel.
Many fan will judge this ballpark by its shade. With third base running due north, the sun will be at the back to fans behind home plate. By the time a game is a third over the vast majority of the seats will be in the shade thanks to a large canopy installed over the grandstand. The design is light and airy.
Speaking of the canopy: the cantilevers will not appear as heavy as other ballparks. The ballpark features minimally structured stucco, accented with wood panels. The whole site is part of Palm Beach County’s Art in Public Places, and the plan is for local artists to create rectangular planes to create shading, graphics, team history and highlights and more on the fan’s journey from parking to entrance.
But there are development limitations: there’s a 13-acre lake on the site, and there’s an easement on 27 more acres. In the end, 120 acres is available for the training complex. Some of that easement will be seen in the canal to the south of the site, and crossing that canal will be part of the experience. Because of that site prep and utility work, construction should move quickly before the 2017 opening.
Spring Training History
The Houston Colt .45s began their history with training camp in Apache Junction, Ariz., in 1962-1963. In 1964 spring training was shifted to Cocoa Beach, where the Astros trained until 1984. In 1985 the Astros moved to Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. The team opens a new chapter in 2017 at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches opens in 2017 as spring home of the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.