A recent news report suggests that the Toronto Blue Jays may bail out of a proposed spring-training facility to be shared with the Houston Astros, but with plans still up in the air it’s hard to predict where things will be in five years.
The report, from The Post’s Richard Griffin, doesn’t actually come out and say the Blue Jays are committed to staying in Dunedin for spring training; he points out that the Blue Jays are under no pressure to leave Florida Auto Exchange Stadium because of a lease that can be extended to 2027. And he also correctly points out that the Astros and Palm Beach County are moving on to two potential sites for a complex, though he has the numbers wrong (Florida has committed $50 million to a new two-team complex, not $100 million). As Griffin writes:
Back in October, it seemed like a spring training move by the Blue Jays from Dunedin to Palm Beach Gardens on Florida’s east coast was inevitable. The cross-state shuffle was to be made on the coattails of grandiose plans for a new two-team facility by the Astros and its owner Jim Crane, who had a letter of intent from Jays president Paul Beeston and boldly called it a “95 per cent certainty.”
The 5 per cent negatory possibility has come home to roost in the form of a resident uprising — too much traffic, too much construction, too much noise, too much light. City council had its vote and now Crane and his people are looking for an alternate site in Palm Beach County — or elsewhere….
The Jays certainly have had their issues with Dunedin, but all of this relocation posturing can only help speed up improvements. It’s worked before. There’s the fact that the minor- and major-league complexes are separated by six kilometres, 10 minutes by car. There’s the fact that there’s only one full diamond at the main stadium.
From what we’re hearing, nothing has really changed: the Blue Jays still have an agreement to join the Astros in a Palm Beach County, but it’s not an absolute agreement: the team still could stay in Dunedin. As Griffin points out, the Blue Jays’ spring-training facilities are amongst the worse in all of Major League Baseball, and there’s absolutely no indication Dunedin will be tearing down libraries and other government buildings to expand the training area around Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Yes, some Toronto fans who invested in winter lodging in Dunedin are upset about the possibility of the team moving to the Treasure Coast. But Griffin’s article is pretty thin gruel: long on speculation (including some bad info; the Washington Nationals aren’t looking at a move to Fort Myers) and short on actual facts.