Although the clubs' lease at Roger Dean Stadium runs through the 2017 Grapefruit League season, Palm Beach County leaders are already wary that the Cardinals and Marlins could leave south Florida someday soon, according to a report in the Palm Beach Post.
The defection of the Dodgers from south Florida to Arizona and of the Redbirds' former spring training site roommate Orioles from Fort Lauderdale to Sarasota has made it awfully lonely on the south Atlantic coast lately. While the Cardinals and Marlins share the 13-year-old ballpark in Jupiter, the only other club within a reasonable driving distance is the Mets 37 miles away at Port St. Lucie. It takes nearly two hours to make the trip to the next closest team -- the Nationals in Mebourne. It's s three-hour drive to see the Cardinals play the Red Sox or Twins at the next-closest spring training locale in Ft. Meyers on the Gulf Coast.
Jupiter leaders say they would not only like to re-up their contract with the Cardinals and Marlins -- they'd like to try to lure some more teams to the area to make the ones already there have more reasons to stay.
While Arizona has been busting out the bucks to lure teams that train in Florida to the desert, I can't see why Florida wouldn't have an advantage if it was willing to match the incentives.
Florida makes so much more sense for Midwestern and eastern teams because you can reasonably drive there. You pretty much have to fly to get to Arizona and back before your vacation is over. And it is getting pretty expensive to fly a family of four, rent a car AND pay for your food and hotel. Besides, there is so much more to do in Florida that you can't do back home -- like go to the ocean. I mean, I guess it would be a unique experience to get lost in the desert or fall down in a cactus patch. It's just not for me...
I hope, if the Cardinals were to move, that they'd at least stay in Florida.
For a long time after they relocated to Jupiter, I wished that they would go back to the St. Petersburg area. The area around Roger Dean Stadium was basically empty fields when the ballpark opened in 1998. But the town has grown up around it and it has become very familiar.
It's a good two or three hours shorter to drive to Tampa-St. Pete. But I've gotten used to the drive and I hope the Cardinals stay put... Although it would be nice to see a few more teams around.
If the Redbirds were to make their spring roost in Arizona, I don't think I'd be interested in making the trip.