The Cardinals appear on the verge of gaining two new spring neighbors, as the Board of County Commissioners in Palm Beach County, Fla., approved financing for the Nationals and Astros to build a Spring Training facility in the county on Tuesday. The organizations now have 90 days to select a site for the complex, which will be a close commute for the Cardinals, who share a Spring Training facility with the Marlins in Jupiter.
The Cardinals, who have trained at Roger Dean Stadium since 1998, have a lease at their current facility that runs through 2027. However, the club also had an out clause in that lease that it could have exercised had any of the other three teams along Florida's East coast -- the Nationals, Mets or Marlins -- moved away. Though the Cardinals were not looking to leave, an exodus of additional teams may have left them little choice but to look elsewhere because of team travel concerns.
Instead, Tuesday's vote paved the way for the Nationals (who train in Viera) to move closer and the Astros (whose current facility is in Kissimmee) to move over. The addition of two teams to the area will lessen the Cardinals' spring travel demands, which have become worse with other teams vacating the area in recent years.
The Commission's 5-2 vote on Tuesday will allow for $108 million in hotel tax revenue for the two-team facility, which is expected to cost $135 million. The Astros have said they are hopeful of leaving Kissimmee after '16, while the Nationals' lease at Space Coast Stadium runs through '17.
"The Board of Commissioners took a major step today toward keeping the tradition of Major League baseball's Spring Training in Palm Beach County and on the east coast of Florida," the two teams said in a joint statement. "The teams will now work to find a location here in Palm Beach County that will serve our needs, those of the youth sports commission and area tourism for decades to come. We will continue our efforts to accomplish that goal."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.