Though the design has been going full steam for weeks, the beginning of construction on a new Houston Astros/Washington Nationals spring-training complex in West Palm Beach is nigh, as the ceremonial groundbreaking was held yesterday.
It was quite the gala: more than 100 local business and political leaders, including MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, were present for the ceremony to mark the beginning of work on the $144-million complex, set to open in spring training 2017 as Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
The 160-acre site is a challenging one, to be sure; about $20 million will be spent on site cleanup before the first actual construction begins.
The move by the Nats and the Astros means spring training should thrive in eastern Florida for years to come; there’s now a five-team cluster in the general area, with the New York Mets training in nearby Port St. Lucie and the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins training in Jupiter. This probably won’t be the end of spring-training upgrades in Palm Beach County — the Cards and Marlins have hinted at potential upgrades to Roger Dean Stadium — but for now the Nats and Astros have a clear path to a 2017 move.