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

UPDATE: Alligator Alley reopens; was closed for hours by brush fire

UPDATE: The Highway Patrol reports I-75 has reopened in both directions. ORIGINAL STORY: Smoke from a brush fire in far western Broward County has closed Interstate 75, “Allligator Alley,” in both directions between mile markers 41 and 46, the Florida Highway Patrol said. The spot is about 20 miles east of the Collier County line. Westbound...
Tiger in South Florida: Here’s eight things you might not know
Tiger in South Florida: Here’s eight things you might not know

1. Tiger Woods moved to South Florida in 2011 after buying an expensive piece of real estate on Jupiter Island, just north of the Palm Beach-Martin county line. The 12-acre property stretches from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean. Woods’ backyard hosts a practice facility, a putting green, a 100-foot lap pool, a 60-foot diving...
Hundreds gather at South Florida National Cemetery on Memorial Day
Hundreds gather at South Florida National Cemetery on Memorial Day

While some came to remember family members, Boca Raton resident Barry Helfanbein was there to remember his friend — Jerry Voda, a Korean War veteran and homeowners’ association board member with a knack for helping people. After Hurricane Wilma tore through Palm Beach County in 2005, Voda helped dozens of owners in his Boca Raton townhome...
NEW: Florida man opens fire with AK-47 on Miami highway
NEW: Florida man opens fire with AK-47 on Miami highway

A man in Miami was arrested Monday morning after police said he shot at cars with an AK-47 rifle while driving on the highway.  The incident happened around 1 a.m. when the 37-year-old man fired his rifle at two passing cars in his red Toyota Corolla on the Palmetto Expressway, CBS Miami reports. He then lost control of his car and crashed...
BREAKING: Boat carrying 750 pounds of marijuana intercepted off Boca coast
BREAKING: Boat carrying 750 pounds of marijuana intercepted off Boca coast

A boat carrying 750 pounds of marijuana was intercepted off the coast of Boca Raton on Saturday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber, which is based in Miami, stopped a 35-foot sport fisher roughly 11 miles east of Boca Raton, officials said. As the crew came alongside the vessel, they saw a package...
More Stories