The St. Louis Cardinals are one big step closer to having a couple of new springtime neighbors -- and seeing Grapefruit League baseball saved for southeastern Florida.
According to a story in the Washington Post, a much-needed measure to ease water control regulations to allow the construction on a new spring training park that would host the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals in Palm Beach County has been reached.
Those clubs are hoping for help of local leaders to build the facility on property within a few minutes drive of Roger Dean Stadium, home of the Redbirds and the Miami Marlins for spring training games.
Not only would the move make things a lot more convenient for Cardinals and Marlins fans who could attend more road games without driving half way across Florida. It would likely allow those teams -- along with the New York Mets, to stay where they currently train.
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In recent years the Baltimore Orioles (Ft. Lauderdale) and Los Angeles Dodgers (Vero Beach) have left the Atlantic Coast making road games a difficult proposition for the remaining Cardinals, Marlins, Mets and their fans.
The Cardinals have an opt out in their Roger Dean Stadium lease that allows them to move from the area if one more team leaves. They've been rumored in the past to be looking for a new site in the Orlando area or (shudder) Arizona if the lack of teams couldn't be addressed.
But things would change dramatically with the addition of two teams just a short distance away. Clubs would have plenty of competition on a daily basis without wasting hours on the road.
Palm Beach County leaders are hopeful of getting the new stadium built and in use in time for Grapefruit League games in 2017. It will be constructed on the site of a former landfill. The issue with water regulations came from 27 acres of the stadium property being located within a water protection area.
Developers told the Washington Post that the land in question will be used for soccer fields and will not be built upon. Because of that they said it will not affect a nearby canal that transports water to a treatment plant.
If the last remaining details can be worked out, construction could be ready to start as early as this summer. Palm Beach County officials have already approved $108 million in public financing for the project.
The Astros currently play in Kissimmee near Orlando while the Nationals play in Viera which is isolated on the east coast of Florida about 3 hours north of Jupiter.