PALM BEACH GARDENS — A Major League Baseball team is looking into establishing Spring Training facilities in Northern Palm Beach County, possibly in Palm Beach Gardens, a Palm Beach County Commissioner said Friday.
Commissioner Hal Valeche declined to disclose the identity of the team or teams involved, but confirmed discussions have included an 82-acre site between Central Boulevard and Interstate 95 in Palm Beach Gardens.
“I’ve just heard that some teams have expressed some interest, and I really can’t say who they are because again it’s confidential,” Valeche said. “But I’ve just heard they’ve expressed some interest in the north part of the county and are trying to work something out, figure something out.”
“I would say it’s right now kind of a long shot, but we’ll see how things develop,” Valeche said. “It would probably be a year or two before anything happened, I would think, because it’s construction and everything.”
A new Spring Training facility in northern Palm Beach County could help keep the other four MLB teams on the East Coast of Florida, said Valeche and other officials in northern Palm Beach County. The teams on the East Coast are the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, the New York Mets at Tradition Stadium in Port St. Lucie and the Washington Nationals at Space Coast Stadium in Viera.
Losing one of the teams to the West Coast of Florida or Arizona could prompt the other teams to leave the East Coast because of concerns about travel time for Spring Training games, said Valeche and Jupiter Town Manager Andrew Lukasik. Some teams have opt out clauses in their lease contracts with the governments that own the stadiums in the event another East Coast team moves away.
“We’d obviously not want to see anybody leave,” Valeche said. “There’s some concern but I think there are some efforts going on to get some other teams here.”
Valeche confirmed the 82-acre tract on Central Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens owned by Palm Beach County is a possibility.
“But again, that’s way in the speculative stages,” Valeche said. “There’s a lot of factors, a lot of moving parts, residents’ concerns, costs, that kind of thing. But that’s I think that’s one of the potential sites.”
That site is four miles south of Roger Dean Stadium. The baseball complex in Jupiter covers 83 acres, the Abacoa master plan shows.
Valeche and other northern Palm Beach County officials said it would be good to have another team or two set up a spring training facility in the area.
“I don’t see anything wrong with it, given that it helps our economy so much,” Valeche said. “Then we can probably count on additional revenue and jobs. It sounds like a good idea to discuss.”
This story will be updated