Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner said before Friday’s home opener against the Atlanta Braves that his team will not seek a temporary home for spring training while the club tries to work out a deal with the Houston Astros on a possible future joint facility in Florida.
“No, I don’t think that is the right move,” Lerner said. “I think you do it, we do it, and we move on to our permanent spot. It seems painful to go through the last three years what we did to try to find it. The economy down there is not great. It is a tough process. We will end up someplace that we are happy with.”
The Nationals have been seeking a new spring home for several years. Among the potential Florida destinations they have explored are Kissimmee and Fort Myers, but plans in both cities have become victims of the poor economy and municipalities not willing to foot the full bill for a new facility.
The Nationals have trained at Space Coast Stadium since relocating from Montreal to D.C. before the 2005 season. They are concerned that there are few other Grapefruit League clubs nearby their home in Viera, which is at least a 75-minute drive to the closest spring opponent, the Astros in Kissimmee.
Currently, the Nationals and Astros are in talks about sharing a facility in Palm Beach County. It is believed the Nationals prefer a location in Lake Worth, south of West Palm Beach off Interstate 95.
In other news, Lerner said the Nationals had thrown out ideas about possibly turning Nationals Park into a domed stadium, but the team did not introduce the idea, it was just part of the conversation.
“(We were meeting with) the group from the city and was throwing around ideas about how we can make the park better,” Lerner confirmed. “The idea came up of how about putting a roof on (the park). All kinds of events here. But we didn’t specifically ask for it. I think that is where it got a little out of whack there.”