Palm Beach County gives Astros, Nats $135m for spring-training complex, says now go find a place to build it

The city of West Palm Beach may have voted to take the land that the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals wanted for a spring-training site and hand it over to developers who are actually willing to pay for it, but that’s not stopping the Palm Beach County Commission, which voted yesterday to give the two teams $135 million in hotel tax money to build a new stadium complex … somewhere.

The new $135 million proposal to build another stadium calls for the county to pay for about half of the costs, with the Astros, Nationals and the state paying for the rest.

The latest version of the deal trims $5 million from construction costs in a prior proposal. But the deal would also leave the county responsible for about $17 million more in public money than once envisioned.

The hotel tax is already being used to pay off the county convention center, support local arts programs, and other ways of promoting tourism, but hey, maybe hotel tax receipts will rise by $135 million if these stadiums are built, right? And if not, they can always raise the hotel tax. Because surely that won’t do anything to cause tourists to choose to stay in a different county.

In any event, the Astros and Nationals owners now just have to drive around Florida looking for a place to spend their $135 million, which they’re promising to do within the next couple of weeks. It’s a tough life, running a pro sports franchise.


4 comments on “Palm Beach County gives Astros, Nats $135m for spring-training complex, says now go find a place to build it

  1. Well I am sure there are offices and training facilities and other stuff than under any sane government would be treated the same way the government treats my office (it does not pay for my office, it does let me count it as an expense for tax purposes…).

  2. The county is covering half of the $135 million cost.

    It sure will be interesting once the teams pick a large piece of land in a prime location that they’ll want for free. Does the county pick up the extra cost? Does the city?

    And the biggest question is whether Palm Beach can get a commitment from the Cardinals and Marlins that they won’t leave for the next 30 years, avoiding a 15 year rotation of being hit up for escalating subsidies.

  3. Other than a couple remaining approvals from the state it appears likely that they’ll break ground next month. This negotiation was not nearly as interesting as the failed deal in Osceola, probably why it worked out better for the teams. The one big question I have is whether the teams have out clauses in case the Cards and Marlins leave, putting Palm Beach County in a cycle of getting jacked for cash every 15 years.

    The only really great quote I’ve read is the one linked below (it’s a copy from an article that was public but is now behind a paywall), in which the Nats lobbyist indicates that Palm Beach County will benefit politically from all of the Washington lawmakers travelling down for spring training.
    http://www.wnff.net/index.php?topic=29455.msg1522534#msg1522534

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