Palm Beach County business owners cautiously optimistic about spring training starting amid pandemic

'I don't want the rug pulled out from under us,' restaurant owner says
Posted at 4:21 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 18:40:11-05

JUPITER, Fla. — When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, it quickly ended spring training and started an economic downturn.

This year many businesses that depend on the games and the fans are hoping for a better 2021.

RELATED: Coronavirus forces changes to spring training in Florida

Just steps away from the spring training home for the Marlins and Cardinals, Vicki Parmelee is hoping spring training not only starts on time but doesn't get interrupted like last year.

"I don't want the rug pulled out from under us this time," Parmelee said.

She owns the Jumby Bay Island Grill near Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

When spring training shut down last March because of the coronavirus, it took a huge bite out of business.

"This is our season, the month of March, and if we miss out on that, it completely [disrupts] the rest of the year," Parmelee said.

Vicki Parmelee
Vicki Parmelee, the owner of Jumby Bay Island Grill in Jupiter, is anxious as spring training approaches and hopes it doesn't get canceled like 2020.

Plans to have limited seating for games have already been approved by Major League Baseball for Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter and the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, allowing games to start on time by the end of February.

George Linley with the Palm Beach County Sports Commission says while Arizona may be looking to delay spring training, teams in Florida are ready to start on time in just over a month.

George Linley, Palm Beach County Sports Commission
George Linley says it's important for Palm Beach County that the entire spring training is held this year.

"You have to be nimble and flexible and willing to adjust. This pandemic has been the most challenging in my 18 years at the sports commission," Linley said. "It's important we get a full season in."

"It affects all of us restaurants, hotels, car rentals, home rentals, everything. It affects all of us, and if it was pushed back a month, we would definitely be able to handle that, but I need to know. I need to know the schedule so we can plan," Parmelee said.

The four baseball teams that train in Palm Beach County are estimated to generate $70 million a year to the economy.

"With the pandemic, one thing I learned with this great industry of sports, you have to be ready to adjust to it because there are curveballs that have come our way," Linley said.