The future of the St. Louis Cardinals in Palm Beach, Florida has grown a little bit brighter.
The Palm Beach Post reports, after much wrangling and disagreement, that county leaders have approved $108 million in funding to build a new spring training complex that would be shared by the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals.
A site for the stadium hasn't been approved. But the money and the commitment of the county to keep baseball is south Florida makes the likelihood of a deal being completed a lot more promising than it has been in recent months.
The Astros and Toronto Blue Jays originally considered moving to south Florida -- Houston calls Kissimmee in central Florida near Orlando it's spring home while the Blue Jays play on the Gulf Coast in Dunedin -- but disagreement over the location of the new ballpark and financial support soured plans. Toronto eventually pulled out and decided to stay put.
Once the home to several clubs, the south Atlantic Coast now is home only to the Cardinals, the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets. Each of those clubs has a clause in their leases that would allow them to depart if another team left the area. Washington was the next-closest club, playing two hours up the interstate in Viera far away from competitors. When the Nationals decided to look for a new home, the number of teams for the southern clubs to play dwindled dangerously low.
By moving the Nats and the Astros into the county, there will be plenty of local options for the Palm Beach teams to play. And it will be a great situation for fans who will be able to watch their team play nearly every day on a spring training vacation with only a short drive to the opposing park.
The Palm Beach Post reports that the clubs have 90 days to report to the county government about potential sites for the new, shared ballpark.
If the deal falls through and the clubs find other places to relocate, the Cardinals would likely have to find a new place to play their Grapefruit League games. They've reportedly considered sites in the Orlando area as well as in Arizona where several Florida-based teams have moved over the past couple of decades thanks to large incentives passed out by leaders there.
The Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers have all moved from Florida to Arizona in recent years. The Dodgers were relatively close to Palm Beach in their longtime spring home in Vero Beach. The Baltimore Orioles, who at one time shared a spring training complex with the Cardinals, moved across Florida from Fort Lauderdale to Sarasorta. The New York Yankees and Montreal Expos -- now the Nationals -- also moved from south Florida. The Yankees moved to Tampa. The Expos shared Roger Dean Stadium with the Cardinals before moving north to Viera.