You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Houston Astros owner talks baseball with Palm Beach County


The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are focusing their pursuit of a shared spring training baseball complex on 160 acres in West Palm Beach south of 45th Street between Haverhill Road and Military Trail.

The teams indicated that an 84-acre site in John Prince Park west of Lake Worth “is too small for the two-team facility that they currently envision,’’ County Administrator Bob Weisman said after a meeting Tuesday between the teams, the county and the city of West Palm Beach.

But there are still several major unresolved issues surrounding the West Palm Beach site, including construction costs, maintenance responsibilities and, perhaps most important, who will pay.

“We identified where some of the resources were and where they weren’t. We have agreed to meet again and try to pull it together,’’ Astros owner Jim Crane told The Palm Beach Post as he left the meeting with Art Fuccillo, a general partner with the Nationals who was the team’s point person in the construction of Nationals Park in Washington.

The next meeting could happen in two weeks. No date has been set “but I know they want to move quickly,’’ Weisman said.

Crane would not elaborate on a cost estimate for the facility, which was as high as $110 million for a site the Astros and Toronto Blue Jays were pursuing in Palm Beach Gardens last year.

Weisman downplayed published reports that put the latest estimate as high as $140 million. “There is no such number at the moment. All I can say is the number exceeds $100 million,’’ he said.

But Weisman said there are “very substantial” development costs associated with the West Palm Beach land because it was once the site of a landfill.

Whether the city kicks in money “is subject to discussion,’’ Weisman said, adding that “there was definitely a willingness by the teams to participate” in paying for the project.

Although the teams would not comment on details about what they want their complex to look like, Weisman said preliminary talks with the county describe a modest stadium. “It’s not an overly large stadium. No bigger than Roger Dean (Stadium).’’

Roger Dean Stadium, a $28 million facility opened in Jupiter in 1998, seats 6,871. It is home to the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.

County officials are trying to lure more teams to the region to reduce the amount of travel for the Cardinals, Marlins, Nationals and New York Mets. The Nationals now train in Viera and the Mets in Port St. Lucie, but any of the four teams in the southeast region can break their leases and leave if one of those teams moves out of the area.

“We think it’s great for the community and great to keep the other teams here, so we are positive we can get something done,’’ Crane said after Tuesday’s meeting. “That’s what we want to do. That’s why we keep spending time on it.’’

Tuesday’s meeting was the first between the teams and the county since the Legislature on May 2 approved changes that make it easier to use up to $50 million in state money earmarked for spring training facilities.

Another source of stadium money would come from a county tourist tax on hotels, presumably $2.6 million a year. But Weisman said, “It’s too early to say how much that number would be.’’

Other open issues to be analyzed include the ability to bond the county and state money and how the complex might be used to benefit city and county residents when it’s not being used by the teams.

“We didn’t come to any conclusions,” West Palm Beach City Administrator Jeff Green said after the meeting.

Green said the participants “set the parameters. The stadium will cost a certain amount, which hasn’t been decided yet. Someone will have to own the stadium. Someone will have to maintain the stadium.”

Green repeated the city’s position that “the county needs to own the stadium. That’s a property tax issue.”

The city has said that if it owns the facility, it would have to pay all property taxes, including county and school board.

The site is the same one considered in 1997 by the Baltimore Orioles. The Nationals were formerly the Montreal Expos, which trained in West Palm Beach for decades before departing in 1998.

Post staff writer Eliot Kleinberg contributed to this story.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Fiona the hippo turns 3 months old
Fiona the hippo turns 3 months old

Fiona — the world’s favorite prematurely born hippopotamus — turned 3 months old Monday. The early days of cuddling the tiny, fragile hippo are long gone, Jenna Wingate, the Cincinnati Zoo’s Africa keeper, told our media partner WCPO. Here are three updates about Fiona that Wingate shared with WCPO: 1. The ‘dung shower&rsquo...
Donors cut county’s student lunch debt by $7,000; $23,000 still owed

A 140-character plea in the Twitterverse launched months ago and several states away has rippled through the cafeteria line in Palm Beach County schools. At least $7,134 in donations have been made to chip away at the lunch debt carried by thousands of the district’s students, said Allison Monbleau, director of food services. The donations lifted...
NEW: Boy, 13, dies after dirt bike crash in Wellington Sunday
NEW: Boy, 13, dies after dirt bike crash in Wellington Sunday

Jonathan Gonzalez loved being outside. Like many 13-year-olds, the Wellington resident loved football, basketball, fishing and just being with friends. On Sunday he told his mother, Maria, he was going outside for a bit. Like she told him every time he’d go out to play, she said “Be careful.” Gonzalez recounted how her son, who died...
Boca High won’t let football star practice despite court ruling
Boca High won’t let football star practice despite court ruling

A Boca Raton High standout football player will have to wait before he’s allowed to join his teammates for spring practice, despite a judge’s ruling that permitted his participation. Shelley Singletary, an 18-year-old running back and defensive back considered a major college prospect, has been on house arrest since his arrest Jan. 25 on...
Hoverboard-riding Boca armed robber gets eight years in prison
Hoverboard-riding Boca armed robber gets eight years in prison

A 21-year-old arrested for a string of armed robberies that culminated in a Hoverboard-assisted purse-snatching from a trio of elderly women was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday. The sentence for Keon Dennard Cunnington came as part of an agreement in which Cunnington pleaded guilty to crimes in three separate cases from February 2016. They...
More Stories