Nats still exploring new spring training site

Nats still exploring new spring training site
February 12, 2013, 3:30 pm
Share This Post

VIERA, Fla. -- As they opened their ninth spring training at Space Coast Stadium today, the Nationals acknowledged they're still looking to relocate to another site for future seasons.

The team issued a press release this afternoon stating their intentions, though they didn't divulge any new details about their potential plan.

"The Washington Nationals are continuing to explore options for spring training sites beyond the current lease," the team said in the release. "Our current focus, however, is on what we expect to be an exciting 2013 spring training season in Viera. While we certainly appreciate public interest in our future plans, we will be making no further comment until there is something new to report."

The Nationals have been seeking a new spring home for two years, citing the long driving distance between Viera and all other camps in the Grapefruit League -- only three other clubs train within 100 miles of Space Coast Stadium -- and have been in discussions with officials from Fort Myers about renovating the City of Palms Park vacated last spring by the Red Sox.

The Nationals, though, have had trouble convincing Lee County officials to spend the money necessary to refurbish City of Palms Park, and the two sides don't appear any closer to a deal now than they've been in the past.

The Nationals also have held discussions with officials in Kissimmee about constructing a new complex capable of housing two major-league franchises, according to a source familiar with the talks. It would take more time to build a new facility, but the ability to share one with another club while still being in close proximity to several other camps could be an intriguing option.

Brevard County officials, meanwhile, have tried to make a new push to upgrade Space Coast Stadium and the surrounding facility, perhaps expanding to entice another franchise to relocate and share with the Nationals and even exploring the possibility of chartering free flights for the team when it needs to travel across the state for exhibition games.

The Nationals' lease for Space Coast Stadium expires in 2017, but penalties for breaking that lease are significantly reduced beginning in April, making the cost of relocating for 2014 minimal to the club.