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Palm Beach County considers another baseball stadium deal

Sun Sentinel

Palm Beach County is taking a new swing at a stadium proposal intended to lure more spring training baseball to South Florida.

Public backlash to building plans could jeopardize a proposal to build a stadium in Palm Beach Gardens.

Uncertainty about the Palm Beach Gardens stadium proposal prompted county officials to meet Tuesday to discuss taking on a bigger role in expanding local spring training.

That could include looking for alternative stadium sites and figuring out how to pay for building a $100 million stadium and training facility, intended to host two Major League Baseball teams.

“I think we are going to take a more active role,” County Administrator Robert Weisman said. “There are some big cost issues.”

Supporters of luring more spring training teams consider it a potential economic development boost that could bring more tourism revenue for local businesses.

Having additional local teams could also provide nearby competition needed to hold onto the remaining baseball teams that come to southeast Florida for spring training.

The Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals hold spring training at county-funded Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

Local taxes on hotel stays could help pay for stadium construction, but that would also tie up money sought for other tourism development needs.

“Money is critically important,” Weisman said. “Cost of the stadium is a problem.”

County officials plan to talk to baseball representatives about the options. They also anticipate talking to nearby counties that share an interest in expanded spring training, Weisman said.

The new stadium doesn’t necessarily have to be built in Palm Beach County, just close enough to benefit the baseball teams that train here, Weisman said.

The Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays were the teams reported to be potentially in play for relocating to Palm Beach Gardens. The Palm Beach Gardens proposal calls for building a stadium on about 100 acres between Central Boulevard and I-95, north of 117th Court.

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