Astros, Nats: We’ll pay rent on Palm Beach spring training site if we get it right back in hotel tax kickbacks

Palm Beach County is still trying to build a new $140 million spring-training complex to lure the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals, with the slight holdup that the county doesn’t actually have $140 million. So the teams have proposed a solution: They’ll pay $2.1 million a year rent (combined), if the county agrees to give them $3 million a year in hotel taxes, rising by 3.5% a year for 30 years wait what? How does that help?

The Palm Beach Post, which apparently first reported this, is behind a paywall, and the subsequent reports in the Houston Chronicle and Washington Post aren’t helping much. (The Chronicle says that $2.1 million a year would pay off $56 million in bonds, which it wouldn’t, and the Post links to a month-old Palm Beach Post article about something else, which is also behind the paywall anyway.) The two teams are making a formal presentation to the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council on Thursday; hopefully we’ll get some actual information then.


5 comments on “Astros, Nats: We’ll pay rent on Palm Beach spring training site if we get it right back in hotel tax kickbacks

  1. Neil, remember this saga has been going on for some time. First with the Astros/Blue Jays and now with the Astros / Nats.

    The Astros haven’t gotten any local TV rights payments in 14+ months since their co-owned network remains in bankruptcy. So, it isn’t surprising that they would be asking for more money. The comments in the Palm Beach Post seem to be a tad “negative” but that probably isn’t a good place to look for an unbiased poll.

    Anyway, the Astros have a few legal issues going on right now so it would not surprise me if this ends up in some type of legal mess as well in the distant future. For now, the Astros have no spring training home in 2017 unless they can get an agreement with West Palm Beach.

  2. Thanks, PowerBoater69, for sending the Palm Beach Post article. (I’ve deleted the comment to avoid copyright violations.) It looks like that was pretty much straight-up reprinted by the Houston Chronicle in the link included above, so no more light is shed on where that $56m figure comes from.

  3. The Nats and Astros are asking for $155 million in payments from Palm Beach in addition to the county building the $140 million ballpark. Is that new? Payments on top of building the stadium? So far the county has agreed that the $3 million a year kick back is acceptable, totaling $90 million in 30 years, but the escalation clause for the additional $65 million is still under consideration.

    What I don’t understand, based on the info in the various articles, is why would the teams pay $2.1 million in rent if they are expecting to receive $3-9 million a year in tax revenues.

    And of course they had the Cardinals, Mets, and Marlins reps at the hearing to present the ultimatum that if the county doesn’t accept this deal those three teams will move away, ending spring training on the Atlantic Coast. (Not an idle threat.)

    Meanwhile the locals on the comments boards believe that the clean-up costs for the dumping ground will be much higher than estimated.

  4. What does this mean? 1st and 4th cent of a tax being raised from 5 to 6%? What’s the difference between the 1st and 2nd cent vs. the 5th and 6th cent on a 6% tax?

    @JonSantucci #Astros and #Nationals are asking for the 1st and 4th cent from the bed tax. Bed tax is 5 cents. @TCPalm

  5. According to SpringTrainingOnline, the city of West Palm Beach told the Astros and Nats not to show up for the next public hearing. That was because the city has decided to let a developer, Parkside Commons of Boca Raton, use the 160 acres for a mixed-use development that will bring tax revenue into the city. The developer is expected to pay $14 million and generate as much as $1 million per year in taxes, according to the West Palm Beach Post. Obviously those numbers are probably just as flaky as any ballpark revenue numbers but they are on the positive side of the ledger rather than West Palm Beach paying for a new stadium and practice fields on the land.

    As far as other sites in West Palm Beach for the Astros and Nationals new spring training site, the mayor of West Palm Beach, Jeri Muoio, told the West Palm Beach Post,

    ““We’re pretty much moving on from baseball. Right now, that’s between the county and the baseball people and we’re looking for alternatives for our land.”