The Jays’ proposed move to a new Palm Beach Gardens site for Spring Training that will be shared with the Houston Astros is in limbo. I’ve been a little behind on this one, as the first signs of trouble for the site came last month. Brian McTaggart reported then for MLB.com that “is being reconsidered after the city agreed to allow Palm Beach County officials to investigate whether another location would better suit the city, county and teams.”

At the time, McTaggart continued:

Astros general counsel Giles Kibbe, who has been Astros owner Jim Crane’s point man in the effort to move the team’s Spring Training facility from Kissimmee, Fla., said the project was still moving forward but that the city wanted to give the county an opportunity to find out if another location would work out just as well. The focus, Kibbe said, was still on having Spring Training baseball on Florida’s East Coast.

This, however, no longer appears to be the case, as late last week, according to the Palm Beach Post, the city council of Palm Beach Gardens passed a motion end all construction on the site, after complaints from locals about stadium noise and traffic.

Evan Drelich of the Houston Chronicle adds that three of the council members who participated in the 4-1 vote against the project are up for reelection in March, “ and the proposed stadium has played a significant role in the races.” He reports that Councillor Joe Russo characterized it as “an issue that’s dividing the city.”

So… Dunedin, then?

For a lot of people — though few who work for the Jays, I suspect — the renewed possibility is probably a nice one, given the team’s long ties with the area, and the memories and relationships that have grown over the years. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

“I would hope that Mr. Crane would give Palm Beach County six months to find him another site,” said Russo, who tabled the motion, in a clip available at the Post.

An earlier piece from the Post explains that “Palm Beach County will ‘cast a wide net’ in its search for a spring training site for the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays — including asking St. Lucie County if it might have room for two more baseball teams.

A wide net seems necessary, as administrators suggest the project would be in for a fight regardless of which of the city’s neighbourhoods was selected for the site. The Post continues:

Valeche said he hoped to meet with St. Lucie officials within the next week. Asked whether St. Lucie had the money for another baseball complex — the New York Mets have a stadium in St. Lucie West, just north of the Tradition development — Valeche said every government has spending constraints.

“That will be an issue with them or us,” he said.

“The overall goal is, to keep baseball here in Southeast Florida we’ve got to find the best solution and that involves casting a pretty wide net.”

I’m not sure if spring baseball in the region is really on such tenuous ground, but it’s not as healthy as on the other side of the state, where new facilities for the Red Sox and Phillies have opened in the last decade. The newest site on the Atlantic coast opened in 1998, and with only the Mets, Nationals, Marlins, and Cardinals over there, the lure of other regions may prove strong for them without a couple more teams able to travel there more conveniently.

In fact, according to another piece from the Houston Chronicle’s Ultimate Astros blog, “the Astros are ‘absolutely’ going to again look into a move to Arizona,” according to the club’s lawyer. This, of course, is all part of the gamesmanship that always goes on when clubs are looking to extract public money for these sorts of projects, and playing one county off of another, but that we’re back to this kind of stage isn’t exactly the best development for those with dreams of an ultra-modern facility to watch Jays Spring Training games in– or those with the club and the media who, for all of Dunedin’s somewhat anachronistic charms, are ready to be done with the bus rides back and forth between Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and the team’s minor league complex.

I’d figure that given the issues with the facilities there the Jays are still one of the better candidates to make the move across the state, but for now, it’s almost like we’re back at square one. Or… actually I can only really just guess what square one felt like, given that the club didn’t let the public in on any of their plans to switch sites until the very end of the process (and even then, not until the Astros outed them). But I suspect this is pretty close.

Comments (15)

  1. I’m heading down end of March to Dunedin to catch some Jays action. Catching 2 games there, and one in Clearwater..

    Any suggestions on places to check out while there?

    • Quite a few decent food options, but i thought El Huarache Azteca was really good, and incredibly cheap. I will be stopping in at least a few times while I am visiting.

    • Casa Tina is a great, authentic Mexican restaurant in downtown Dunedin which is also walkable from the stadium.

    • Dunedin House of Beers. We’re talking Giant MAN sized Jenga and a jukebox that has it all.
      Not too mention a shit tonne of beers. So there you go!

  2. I’ve been heading down to Dunedin for the last few years, and its a great place to visit. I hope they can figure something out to stay in Dunedin.

    • Agreed! I’ll be going down for the 4th straight year, and It’s a fantastic town with an old Florida feel. Seeing the Pirates play in Bradenton is nice as well.
      I went to see the Phillies last year for a game in Clearwater. Very nice, modern stadium but isn’t really walkable to anything. Just an endless parking lot on the outside and views of the highway in right field. It really lacks that old stadium feel, which Dunedin has.

  3. Dunedin Brewery is pretty good, walk-able to the stadium, stayed right on the beach in Clearwater at the Palm Pavilion, bit of a throwback to an earlier era, but clean and affordable

  4. @middaughsome

    Dunedin Brewery is a great place to eat/drink. It’s in downtown Dunedin, 10 min walk from the park.

    If you like ironic jock bars, check out Eddie’s which is just north of downtown on Bayshore. It’s a great place with a basketball machine and a shockingly robust selection of beer on tap (including micro brews from across the US – way better selection than almost every bar in Toronto)

    Finally, if you like BBQ, check out Eli’s. It’s open Friday and Saturday only (and until they run out of food both days). It’s legit. You’ll love it.

  5. Mark me down for a move to Arizona, much prefer the desert to the tropics.

  6. Just move to AZ already. The weather is much better that time of year…you dont have as much risk of rain ruining your plans if you are visiting for a week to catch some games.

    you have all the teams much closer together……and its all centered about a major metropolitan area so there’s more to do at night.

    not to mention the fine ass that you get to check out in scottsdale…

    things to do while there in spring

    -of course cactus league.

    -hike camelback mountain

    -bike south mountain

    -boat out on lake pleasant..

    its quite fun…cactus league >>>>>> grapefruit league.

    • I’d love to catch some games in AZ, but unfortunately there are not as many options for flights from Toronto compared to Florida.

    • Arizona would be awesome for us Western fans in the prairies. Lots of easy flights to and from Phoenix and the weather that time of year can’t be beat.

      On your list of things to do, you missed playing any of the million golf courses in the area.

      We were there 2 springs ago and hit up a A’s game which was okay. The really nice thing is all the stadiums are within an hour drive so everyday you can catch a different game if you wanted to.

    • I heard Veronica Vaughan lives there.


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