Stadium price tag rising; teams want to start work next week


How stadium costs add up

Breakdown of costs for new spring training stadium in West Palm Beach to be shared by the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.

Construction …………………………………………….. $109,391,926

Permits, inspections………………………………….. $ 4,085,850

Furnishings, equipment…………………………….. $ 8,844,025

Designs, consultants………………………………….. $ 13,123,673

Special systems (phone, data, etc.) ………………. $ 2,953,361

Contingency……………………………………………….. $ 7,250,000

Sales tax savings ………………………………………. $ (1,500,000)

Total ……………………………………………$144,148, 835

Source: Palm Beach County government

The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals want to start clearing debris and trees next week from an old landfill south of 45th Street, kicking off work on a spring training facility the teams hope to open in 2017, an official said Friday.

But the price tag for the project is going up, even though no dirt has been moved yet on the 160-acre site.

The teams have revised the project’s budget to $144.1 million, about $9 million more than the budget approved in August by Palm Beach County commissioners, and are hinting that it could go even higher. Construction is expected to account for $109.4 million, with designs, furnishings and permitting accounting for most of the rest.

The Astros and Nationals will pay for the increases, raising the total amount of the teams’ contribution to at least $76 million. The amount of public money will not increase.

“We’re having to come out of pocket,’’ said Giles Kibbe, general counsel for the Astros, who attributed some of the increased costs to higher-than-expected construction bids and land-preparation costs.

The rising costs are not a big surprise since the teams told the West Palm Beach City Commission last month that they were having budget issues. The teams are responsible for all cost overruns exceeding $135 million.

“It’s not something we’re excited about,” Kibbe said. “But we want this place to be something the county is proud of and is good for both teams, so it is costing us a little extra.’’

The teams already agreed to pay $67 million overall in annual installments over 30 years. The total costs, including debt services, is expected to be $232.9 million before the cost increase. The rest of the debt service will be paid with $116 million from a county hotel tax and $50 million from the state.

The County Commission is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a series of items that will allow the teams to start work on a project that will mark the return of spring training to West Palm Beach for the first time since 1997.

The main vote will be the issuance of construction bonds. Since it could take another month before the Astros and Nationals get money from the bond sale, the teams plan to spend several million dollars of their own money to get started next week, Kibbe said.

The commission also will vote to formally close on a land swap with West Palm Beach that would give the county ownership of the 160-acre site between Haverhill Road and Military Trail. The closing is contingent on the county receiving by Oct. 30 a certification letter from the state committing to its $50 million contribution.

The bond issue vote also is contingent on the county receiving the state certification letter by Oct. 30.

“If we get approvals (from the county), we’re going to go ahead and start next week,’’ Kibbe said.

County officials are confident they will get the letter from the State Department of Economic Opportunity this month, but they thought they would have had it sooner.

“I’ve even asked (county staff) ‘What’s the hold up?’’’ County Administrator Verdenia Baker said.

State officials are being careful with language in the agreement, Baker said, because it’s the first two-team deal the state has done with baseball teams since Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation last year offering incentives to help save spring training in Florida.

A breakdown of the $109.4 million in construction costs was not available Friday. But it includes about $20 million for clearing debris and preparing the land for “vertical construction,” officials have said.

Other expenses include $13 million for designs and consultants and $4 million for permitting and inspection fees. The design fees for the architectural firm, HKS, are $11.3 million.

URS Corp, the teams’ environmental consultant, is listed at $1.1 million, while local land-planning firm Urban Design Kilday Studios is listed at $189,500.

County staff had expressed concern that “the magnitude of overruns” could cause the Astros and Nationals to cut corners on areas of the spring training complex accessed by the public as opposed to areas and improvements used by the teams, according to a county memo.

But, the memo said, county officials are satisfied that based on county design standards “and the detailed information already in hand,” the “integrity of the public use improvements” will be maintained.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

UPDATE: IDs released on 3 teens dead after car goes airborne on Turnpike 
UPDATE: IDs released on 3 teens dead after car goes airborne on Turnpike 

Florida Highway Patrol officials have released the identities of those involved in a Turnpike crash where a car went airborne and smashed into a tollbooth. The three men who died in the Broward County crash are Matthew F. Bryan, 17, and Kevin F. Bryan, 18, both of Miramar; and Yostein L. Martinez, 18, of Hialeah Gardens. Cesar O. Pina, 19, of Opa Locka...
PBC school board blasts legal team for blaming girls in sex abuse suit
PBC school board blasts legal team for blaming girls in sex abuse suit

Palm Beach County School Board members harshly criticized their own legal team Wednesday for suggesting in court filings that four young girls were partly to blame for their injuries after being sexually molested 12 years ago by their third-grade teacher. As they approved a $3.5 million legal settlement with the four former students, board members...
Irma food aid speeds up after complaints; $873 million already paid
Irma food aid speeds up after complaints; $873 million already paid

The Florida Department of Children and Families has paid out more than $873 million for disaster food assistance in 34 counties impacted by Hurricane Irma, including $30 million in Palm Beach County. The department released data about the D-SNAP food stamp program and improvements to the application process late Wednesday afternoon after news...
Canada heartbroken: Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie dead at 53 of brain cancer 
Canada heartbroken: Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie dead at 53 of brain cancer 

The lead singer of the Canadian alt-rock band the Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, died Wednesday night after a battle with terminal brain cancer. Downie, 53, passed away surrounded by his children and family, according to a family statement on Twitter. "Gord knew this day was coming – his response was to spend this precious time as he always...
No quick solutions after partial collapse of North Palm Beach bridge
No quick solutions after partial collapse of North Palm Beach bridge

Two failing cables caused a chunk of a busy U.S. 1 bridge just north of Northlake Boulevard to plunge into the canal beneath it Wednesday morning, according to North Palm Beach officials. A section of sidewalk and railing on the southbound side of the U.S. 1 bridge over the C-17 Canal collapsed just after 9 a.m. Wednesday. The canal is known locally...
More Stories