Palm Beach County commissioners approve construction bonds for spring training complex

Looks like the cost of the spring training complex the Nationals will share with the Astros has gone a little higher than expected.

The teams have told Palm Beach County that the budget for the shared facility that is due to open in West Palm Beach for the 2017 Grapefruit League campaign has risen to at least $144 million from the $135 million that was approved in August.

Any increase over the original $135 million budgeted for the project will be split between the Nationals and Astros, per an agreement with Palm Beach County.

WPB-STADIUM-WEST.jpgThis morning, Palm Beach County commissioners are scheduled to vote on whether to issue $133 million in construction bonds, according to the Palm Beach Post.

The teams will contribute $67 million toward repaying construction bonds, while the remainder of the nearly $232 in principal and interest over a 30-year period will come from approximately $116 million in county hotel taxes and $50 million from the state.

The new facility will be initially called The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. However, as part of the deal with the county, naming rights can be sold by the teams, if the words “of the Palm Beaches” or “at the Palm Beaches” are included in the name of the facility.

The Nationals will move their spring training base from Viera, where they have trained at Space Coast Stadium since moving from Montreal before the 2005 season. The Astros will relocate from Kissimmee in central Florida, where they have conducted spring training since 1985.

The teams had attempted to secure a new shared complex in Osceola County near Kissimmee, but the county rebuffed their overtures. The Nationals had also looked into taking over the vacant City of Palms Park in Fort Myers and investigated whether to move their spring base to Arizona. The Nationals wanted to cut down on long bus trips; the Astros, an hour away at Osceola County Stadium, are currently their closest spring training opponent.

When the new facility opens in 2017, the Nationals and Astros will be a short drive away from the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, which houses the Marlins and Cardinals. With the Mets just north in Port St. Lucie, that will mean five of the 15 Grapefruit League teams will be located within about a 45-minute drive. The next-closest opponent will be the Braves in the Disney complex in Lake Buena Vista, more than two hours away.

Update: The Palm Beach County commissioners unanimously approved issuing the construction bonds. Ground should be broken on the new complex by the first week of November.

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