Ballpark of the Palm Beaches ready for debut

Nationals and Astros, who share the facility, to face off on Tuesday

Ballpark of the Palm Beaches ready for debut

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Commissioner Rob Manfred will help usher in a new era of Grapefruit League baseball at 1:05 p.m. ET Tuesday afternoon when the Astros and Nationals meet in the inaugural game at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the jewel of the new Spring Training facility the clubs began sharing this year.

Construction crews have been working around the clock for weeks to finish the 6,500-seat stadium, while the Astros and Nationals practiced in separate complexes on each side of the venue. Crews will be putting the finishing touches on the stadium throughout the spring, but much of that construction won't be visible to the teams or fans.

Watch Tuesday's game on MLB.TV

"It's been a long time coming," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "To be the road team and only have to travel 100 yards is pretty remarkable."

Hinch, Luhnow on new facility

Manfred, who was at the November 2015 groundbreaking for the $150 million project, will be in attendance Tuesday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Nationals principal owners Ted and Annette Lerner, and members of their family, will join Astros owner Jim Crane, members of his family and executive team, as well as West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County officials at the ceremony.

A flyover will be held prior to first pitch by the U.S. Coast Guard from Air Station Miami, and the national anthem will be performed by the Palm Beach opera soprano Jessica Fishenfeld.

"I'm very impressed because they've been working around the clock," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "I mean, these guys, every day I see something new. Just like I was coming in the front door they had the little railings up there and I was like, 'Man, I saw them two days ago they weren't up.' So I'm very impressed.

"I've only been in the stadium one time when I first got here two weeks ago. So I don't know; I have an idea what it looks like, but I won't know until I get in there actually. I'm impressed at the speed and the quality."

Baker on new spring facility

The Nationals moved to West Palm Beach after training in Viera since they were still the Montreal Expos in 2003. The franchise previously trained in West Palm Beach from 1969-71 and 1981-97. The Astros had trained in Kissimmee since 1985.

Washington is the designated home team Tuesday, and the Astros will be the home team for the first time when they play the Marlins on Wednesday. The Astros and Nats will meet each other seven times this spring in the ballpark.

"I'm fired up," Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said. "I haven't even looked in there yet. I wanted to wait until the first game to go in there. I'm excited, man. It's going to be a blast."

Fans can still purchase tickets for the inaugural opener at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Tickets start at just $20 and are available here or in-person at the newly opened Ballpark of the Palm Beaches box office.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.