The Washington Times - August 20, 2013, 07:35PM

CHICAGO — The Washington Nationals’ search for a new spring training home will continue after a proposal to build a $98 million complex in Kissimmee, Fla., was voted down by the Osceola County Commissioners on Monday night. 

The commissioners dismissed the Nationals’ latest plans by a 4-1 vote, the second time they have rejected the organization’s proposed stadium plans for the area. The first time the commissioners voted it down by a 3-2 tally. 


The Nationals now return, essentially, to square one in their search to move from Brevard County and their current spring home in Viera, Fla.  

“While the Washington Nationals are sorry that we couldn’t come to an agreement with Osceola County, we recognize this was just one option toward finding the right site, deal and partner to build our one-of-a-kind, family-friendly Spring Training and fan experience facility,” the team said in a statement. “We would like to thank Osceola County for approaching us about this project and for their professionalism and good spirit throughout the negotiations.

“We will continue to talk with other interested counties in Florida and Arizona and believe that the appropriate combination of site and investment will pay dividends for the right community long into the future.” 

The latest vote in Kissimmee came after a wave of opposition from local business owners over the cost of the complex, which would have been funded primarily through tourist tax money over a 30-year period.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the county would have been committed to roughly $174 million in tourist tax dollars through 2044. 

A motion to delay the decision, which had already been pushed 30 days, another six months failed Monday night, in part because the Nationals wanted an answer in order to move on with their search.

The team brought a revised proposal to this meeting, including roughly an additional $18 million commitment from the team, and a $3-per-ticket surcharge for the county that would have brought in an estimated $24 million in additional revenue over the next three decades. But multiple commissioners still had reservations about the deal.

“If the deal stinks today, it’s going to stink tomorrow,” commissioner John Quinones told the Sentinel.

The Nationals have been in Viera since before the team moved to Washington, but they’ve made no secret of their desire to leave their isolated corner of Florida to be closer to other teams and lessen the stress the multi-hour drives take on their team during the spring. Moving to Kissimmee would’ve only slightly lessened their travel issues, bringing them closer to the Atlanta Braves, in Orlando, and the Detroit Tigers, in Lakeland.

The team’s lease with Brevard County runs through 2016, but they can buyout the remaining portion of it for a minimal charge and the Nationals have been in search of a new home for at least two years.

The Nationals had originally appeared headed for Fort Myers, in Lee County on Florida’s Gulf Cost, but they could never produce enough funding to renovate City of Palms Park, the Red Sox former home, to make the proposal come to fruition. That was when Osceola County, which has been the home of the Houston Astros since 1985, came into the picture. 

The Astros, who are still in the early stages under new ownership, are reportedly considering moving into a dual complex in the Palm Beach area with the Toronto Blue Jays.