Why the Blue Jays left: Did council vote matter?


Neighborhood opposition played a significant role in Palm Beach Gardens’ decision to withdraw its site from consideration for a spring training baseball stadium in January 2014. But it wasn’t the only reason.

The Toronto Blue Jays, who were supposed to share the site with the Houston Astros, rejected the deal.

Gardens City Manager Ron Ferris had traveled to Toronto, Houston and Arizona in 2013 to hammer out a proposal for a $100 million spring training facility off Central Boulevard near two public schools.

The Toronto trip in September — with Natalie Crowley, the city’s planning and zoning director; Daniel Martell, the Economic Council director; and Tom McNicholas, a consultant — included a tour of Rogers Centre and seats with team officials in a luxury suite to watch the Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees, 2-0.

The Astros had been focusing on Palm Beach Gardens since 2012. The Blue Jays had been considering a move to Gardens as early as March 2013, city records reviewed by The Palm Beach Post showed. Ferris said he went to Toronto “to show them I was serious. I’d like to think they were serious.”

But in December 2013, a month before the City Council voted to reject the baseball deal, the Blue Jays on Dec. 12, 2013, sent Ferris a letter signaling the team’s intent to stay in Dunedin, Toronto’s spring home since 1977.

The Blue Jays were worried the Gardens facility would cost more than $114 million and force the teams to kick in money, something Toronto officials claimed was never part of the deal.

“Clearly this is not in line with a commitment to construct a facility ‘at no cost to the teams,’’’ Paul Beeston, the Blue jays president, and Matthew Shuber, the Jays’ vice president of business affairs, wrote.

The Palm Beach Gardens plan “would not justify our moving our Florida operations out of a community in which we have maintained such operations on an uninterrupted basis since 1977,’’ the Blue Jays officials wrote.

The Astros were always on board with the project, Ferris said in an interview, while the Blue Jays seemed to be “dragging their feet. If they had gotten on board like Houston did, the outcome might have been a little different.”


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