Another spring-training complex will receive a facelift, as the New York Mets and St. Lucie County agreed to a new 25-year lease that will end up in upgrades over the next two years to the team’s longtime Grapefruit League home, Tradition Field.
The deal had been in the works for over a year, as the county and the team worked out a financial plan that worked for both sides, with the inclusion of possible state funding via a spring-training retention fund as well. The Mets would pay down the existing Tradition Field debt of $5.4 million, while the county would then issue $55 million in new bonds for the facility upgrades backed by the bed tax, with the contingency that state funding much come through before the upgrades begin. The Mets would then see a rental bump up to $2 million a year for 25 years, as well as commit $400,000 to county tourism promotion.
The upgrade plan would see the ballpark upgraded with a 360-degree concourse, three new Little League baseball/softball fields for county use, a new player dorm/academy, new clubhouses and team offices, an additional practice field, and new fan seating.
It’s the latest in a wave of spring-training upgrades for fans and players alike. This offseason has Steinbrenner Field, spring home of the New York Yankees, and Joker Marchant Stadium, spring home of the Detroit Tigers, undergo some serious upgrades with the addition of new group and seating areas, upscale amenities, improved player facilities and more. The San Francisco Giants are looking at upgrades to Scottsdale Stadium and the nearby training camp, and the Toronto Blue Jays ate negotiating a major overhaul to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. And, of course, February will see the opening of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the new spring home for the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.