- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Washington Nationals continue to pursue a new spring training facility in Palm Beach County, Florida, that they would share with the Houston Astros, but plenty of hurdles remain.

The Palm Beach Post reported Astros owner Jim Crane and Nationals general partner Art Fuccillo met Tuesday with officials from Palm Beach County and the city of West Palm Beach about an 84-acre site that has been proposed for a joint training facility.

County Administrator Bob Weisman told the Post the proposed facility would cost at least $100 million, but numerous details must still be worked out before the parties move forward.

The teams would share a stadium that Weisman said would be “no bigger” than Roger Dean Stadium, the 6,871-seat spring home of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals in nearby Jupiter. Such shared complexes are common in Arizona, where several have been built in recent years.

The Nationals have been trying to find an alternative to their long-time spring training base in Viera, Florida, for a few years now, and the Astros are currently based in Kissimmee. If this proposal works out, a cluster of five teams (including the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie) would be based in southeast Florida, providing easy travel for many games.

“We think it’s great for the community and great to keep the other teams here, so we are positive we can get something done,” Crane told the Palm Beach Post. “That’s what we want to do. That’s why we keep spending time on it.”

It ultimately will come down to money, of course. Weisman told the Post the teams have indicated they’re willing to pay some of the costs, but it remains to be seen how much the city or county would kick in. State money could help, too, as the Florida Legislature recently approved a bill that would aid in funding spring training facilities via sales-tax rebates.

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