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Land swap could lead to new Astros/Nats spring training complex

Washington NationalsA proposal for a new Houston Astros/Washington Nationals spring-training complex in Palm Beach County is back from the dead after West Palm Beach officials say they’ll look closely at a previously rejected land swap.

Palm Beach County — as well as the teams — had proposed the exchange of two acres of prime downtown owned by the county for 160 acres between Haverhill Road and Military Trail. The Nats and Astros would then build a new spring-training complex there, as well as park land for residents. The city had proposed the trade as being inequitable and had instead negotiated with a Boca Raton firm for a mixed-use development.

The total cost of the spring-training complex is estimated at $135 million. The county has already voted to spend $108 million in hotel taxes for the spring-training complex. From the Palm Beach Post:

Mayor Jeri Muoio this morning announced that the city will negotiate a possible land swap with Palm Beach County for a new baseball spring training complex south of 45th Street.

Muoio’s announcement, at a press conference outside City Hall, is a reversal of the city’s previous stance – the city had steadfastly maintained it would not trade land with the county for the $135 million baseball project.

West Palm Beach was once home to Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos spring training at West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium, through 1997. Attracting the Washington Nationals — who currently train at Viera’s Space Coast Stadium — and the Houston Astros — currently training at Kissimmee’s Osceola County Stadium — is key to keeping spring training in eastern Florida. Currently the St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins and New York Mets train in Jupiter and Port St Lucie, but all three have out clauses in their leases if fewer than four teams are left training in the region. A new West Palm Beach complex would retain the Nationals and add the Astros to the mix.

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