The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will be complete by Feb. 28, in time for the opener between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals but not a second sooner.
Representatives of both baseball teams told the county commission Tuesday morning they’re sprinting to the finish, no thanks to Hurricane Matthew, which required work crews to spend two days securing the 161-acre Haverhill Road site and two more days getting it unwrapped and back in action.
Astros General Counsel Giles Kibbe and Art Fuccillo, a Nationals partner, said the teams’ 12 practice fields will be ready for their arrival in mid-February. The stadium, which is a bit behind schedule, will still be a work in progress then but will be finished by Feb. 28, Kibbe said.
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The public multipurpose fields and city park, on the south end of the site, also will be complete by then, he added.
The payoff for the county should come soon, he said. The Astros alone have reserved 17,700 hotel room days for the year, most of them during spring training but many spread around the calendar. That alone represents an investment of $2.75 million, he said.
Fuccillo did not have hotel stats for the Nationals but said the complex would go down as one of the county commission’s major accomplishments.
“We’re racing through this project as fast as we can but time has not been cooperating on so many different aspects of it,” Fuccillo said. “We are committed to getting it open. We are working very hard.”
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“…It’s not an easy process, baking this cake,” he said. “Every single day we get more optimistic. It’s a sprint.”
Commissioner Shelley Vana said she’s hoping the Atlanta Braves will be impressed enough by the $148.5 million complex to also build a stadium, at John Prince Park in Lake Worth. Nearby businesses are hoping for that, she said.
Kibbe replied that he’s friends with the Braves’ executive team. “If there’s anything we could do on that, we’d love to do it,” he said.
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