A West Palm Beach spring training complex for the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros is a go, as Gov. Rick Scott signs bill removing final hurdle to $135-million facility, due to open in 2017.
We have a name for the West Palm Beach spring training complex — Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, at least until the naming rights are sold — as well as a tentative groundbreaking date this fall.
That bill may have been relatively minor — a change in land-use laws allowing 27 acres to be included in the spring-training site — but the implications are huge, as this was the final barrier to construction beginning on the West Palm Beach complex. (Technically, Scott signed the bill last month but this ceremonial signing was the signal serious work was beginning.) Some site prep and a lot of planning has already been underway, so now it’s race for the two teams and architect HKS to prepare a final site plan and begin serious work. Being that the site was formerly a trash dump, there will probably be some surprises as work goes along. From the Palm Beach Post:
The Palm Beach County Commission is expected to sign final documents on the project, including a land swap with the city of West Palm Beach, on Aug. 18.
The city commission is expected to vote on the same package Sept. 8. That vote would allow a formal ground breaking ceremony to be held sometime this fall.
“If we can get the ground broke by October, we should be good to open up in a year and half,’’ Crane told The Post. “The (construction) drawings are done, the bids are in.’’
The Nationals currently train at Viera’s Space Coast Stadium and Carl Barger Complex, while the Astros train at Osceola County Stadium. Getting a team back into West Palm Beach has ramifications past the two teams. Right now there are four teams — Washington, the Mets, St. Louis and Miami — training on Florida’s Treasure Coast. If that number dips to three, those remaining teams have out clauses in their spring-complex leases, freeing them to move elsewhere. A new West Palm Beach complex keeps spring training on the Treasure Coast for decades to come.
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