At one point, it seemed likely that the Nationals would switch spring training locations after the 2013 season, with the team looking to relocate its minor league facilities from Viera, Fla., to Fort Myers.
Apparently, the chances of that happening continue to decrease.
According to a report in the News-Press (subscription required), Lee County Commissioner John Manning doesn’t seem optimistic about the Nats relocating to Fort Myers, saying Lee County’s financial situation might prevent a team from taking over the lease at City of Palms Park.
Lee County is already the spring training home of the Red Sox and Twins, and according to the News-Press, the county will have to pay $436 million over the next 32 years to fund its three stadiums.
The county agreed to build the brand new JetBlue Park for the Red Sox, a stadium that opened last spring and left the county $143 million in debt. Lee County then took on an additional $91 million in debt to build new facilities for the Twins, to put them on par with the Red Sox.
Because of the county’s arrangement with the Twins and Red Sox, there doesn’t appear to be much money left to make improvements to City of Palms Park.
For the Nationals to move to City of Palms Park, they would require the county to upgrade the facilities, which previously housed the Red Sox. The Nationals are asking for clubhouse renovations and the construction of additional practice fields.
But for that to happen, it seems that Lee County would need the Nationals to adjust their proposal and form some sort of financial compromise with the county and city of Fort Myers.
The Nats have a contract in place with Brevard County for Space Coast Stadium, their current spring training home, through 2017. The financial penalties for breaking the lease drop significantly after spring training in 2013, however.
Recently, Brevard County set aside $325,000 for repairs and improvements to Space Coast Stadium, perhaps in an effort to keep the Nationals in Viera.
The Nationals had been considering leaving the east coast of Florida to cut down on travel to road games. Their closest spring training opponent, the Astros, are an hour west of Viera, while the Braves, Mets, Marlins and Cardinals are the only other teams within a two-hour drive of Space Coast Stadium.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks have signed outfielder/corner infielder Mark Teahen to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, according to The Arizona Republic.
Teahen spent the 2012 season with the Nationals’ organization. He was with the big league club in spring, but spent the entire season at Triple-A Syracuse, where he hit .260 with three homers and 63 RBIs.
The 31-year-old was one of the more entertaining players to follow on Twitter, so I’ll miss him in that regard.