Could the Toronto Blue Jays be the other team interested in joining the Houston Astros in a proposed two-team spring training complex in Palm Beach Gardens.
Astros' owner Jim Crane - who also owns the Floridian golf course in Palm City - told MLB.com on Monday that the Blue Jays are one of several teams he is talking with about the proposed spring complex, that would be located just west of I-95 and north of Military Trail.
"There's a number of teams that have expressed interest, and the Blue Jays are one of them," Crane told MLB.com. "Again, we're waiting on state approval and city approval, which isn't done yet. Once that's done, a two-team complex there would anchor that area with the Marlins and Cardinals, and Mets up the street.
"That would be a pretty good situation for everybody, and those teams are very supportive of somebody trying to get something done there."
Houston currently trains in Kissimmee and the team's lease there doesn't run out until 2016.
Crane said that he is exploring several options - including a move to Arizona - but seemed more interested in the Palm Beach County site.
"We're going to keep all the parts moving, but our best situation would be to go down there (Palm Beach County) and team up with somebody," Crane said in the MLB.com interview. "And that would be ideal because there's plenty of hotels, it's a nice area and the commute would be minimal, and you'd be able to leverage the facility off of two teams, which would be better for both teams.
"We're just trying to get the best possible situation for our players, and long term what's best for the team. Kissimmee's been good to us and it's a great spot, but it's hard for our players to get in and out."
Crane said getting that deal done would solidify spring training on the east coast of Florida for years.
"If we can get all those conditions right and get somebody to build it for us, that's what we're going to do," he told MLB.com. "We have a little leverage down there, because we can anchor the east coast. If we don't do it, some of the teams have the option to get out of their lease and you could lose all the baseball in the east coast of Florida."
Giles Kibbe, general counsel for the Astros, has said a stadium in Palm Beach Gardens featuring two teams could have a $110 million to $130 million impact yearly. The Astros are looking at an 82-acre site between Central Boulevard and Interstate 95 in Palm Beach Gardens valued at $2.7 million. The spot is just four miles south of Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, where the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins train.
On March 13, legislation in Tallahassee was introduced to produce more cash to seal deals on ballparks like the one the Astros want.
In an amendment to a larger economic incentives bill, a Senate budget subcommittee voted to offer cash for upgrading or building spring training facilities. Stadiums that host one team could apply for up to $20 million over a 30-year span. Facilities with two teams could receive $40 million. Local governments would have to match the state money, and payouts would start in 2015-16.
That amendment by Sens. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, is also in line with Gov. Rick Scott’s push to keep spring training teams from leaving Florida for Arizona.
- Staff writer Jon Mattise contributed to this report.