According to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Astros are still hoping to build a new spring training facility for the 2017 baseball season but are now discussing a potential partnership with the Washington Nationals instead of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Astros’ current deal in Kissimmee expires at the end of 2016, which has hosted Astros’ spring training since 1985. The Blue Jays have been in Dunedin since 1977.
In case you haven’t been following this story, let’s get you quickly up to speed. Last March, reports of the Blue Jays looking for a new spring training home and the possibility of partnering up with either the Astros or Nationals were widely publicized. The new complex would be in Palm Beach Gardens; the Blue Jays and Astros hoped to have it ready for as early as the 2016 spring season. The deal seemed solid, with the Blue Jays signing a letter of intent.
The Blue Jays had previously agreed to a 15-year lease that would see them play spring ball in Dunedin until the end of 2017 and president Paul Beeston said the Blue Jays would honour their commitment. However, some speculated that they would buyout the final year if a new complex could be secured prior to the end of the lease.
But a potential lawsuit from a local group has thrown a wrench in that plan and has rendered it dead. The Astros are still believed to be interested in teaming up with either the Jays or the Nationals at another site but the Jays, as usual, have kept things quiet on their end. The Chronicle shares this quote from Palm Beach county commissioner Hal Valeche:
“I don’t think we’ve gotten anything from the county level from the Blue Jays,” Valeche said. “I think the way the whole thing has evolved, there never was any real direct contact between Palm Beach Gardens and the Blue Jays. I think it was all done through the Astros, Jim talking to the Blue Jays.”
“They’re a little different animal because they’re owned by a corporation.”
Rogers Blue Jays… although Paul Beeston did once say numerous proposals over the years haven’t tempted a move and “in a perfect world” the team would remain in Dunedin, a town located slightly to the northwest of Tampa. It seems to me that the Jays’ brain trust is posturing again with the hopes that Dunedin will come to them with a better deal (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Maybe I am just reading too far between the lines. All I know is that I wouldn’t want to see the Jays leave Dunedin but I would like to see the team have a new facility and stadium.
For more pros and cons take a look at an article by Richard Giffin of the Toronto Star.