PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Bart Murray brought his son, Barton, all the way from New Hampshire to watch his first New York Mets spring training game.
“Best minor league ballpark we’ve been to,” Murray proclaimed, of Tradition Field.
Murray said it doesn’t surprise him to learn the Mets are looking to lure in a second team.
“It’s a brand-new stadium," he said. "Everything’s clean, everything’s well-run, the people are friendly. It’s just a nice place to come, and we’d definitely come back.”
The Mets may look to the Houston Astros as the second team they've been wanting to add to their facility. The owner of the Astros, Jim Crane, has said he’d like for players to spring train on Florida’s east coast after the Astros’ contract with Kissimmee expires.
“If there was a game tomorrow that Houston had, we’d definitely come back tomorrow,” said Murray. "I'd like to see back-to-back games by two different teams."
Crane purchased The Floridian Golf and Yacht Club and built a house on the Treasure Coast, lending fuel to the speculation.
The Mets have an annual economic impact of $35 million, but a recent study done by St. Lucie County estimates it would cost $60 million to bring another team to Port St. Lucie.
President of the Florida Sports Foundation John Webb says Governor Rick Scott wants to spend $5 million next year to help keep spring training in the state.
“Spring training has been in Florida for 125 years,” said Webb. “We had 1.6 million visitors last year that attended the games. It created about $750 million economic impact."
The governor's proposal of $5 million recurring funding to help communities keep baseball spring training teams has to be approved by state legislators.
Fans like Murray agree if Port St. Lucie invested in the Astros, it would be worth every penny.
“We’d come for the Mets one day, and Houston that night, or Mets one day and Houston the next," said Murray.
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