In his final press conference as a member of the Washington Nationals' Front Office earlier this week, outgoing team President Stan Kasten talked to reporters about the possibility of relocating the Nats' spring home from Viera, Florida, or possibly attracting other teams closer to Space Coast Stadium, where they've held Spring Training since Montreal moved there in 2003. The problem, as Mr. Kasten explained it, involved, "...some challenges associated with its location," which have apparently only increased with the Los Angeles Dodgers' departure from Dodgertown in Vero Beach for Arizona, which, in Mr. Kasten's words, "...just made our location more difficult.'"
Florida Today writer Mark Decotis explains the situation in a little more detail in an article published Thursday in response to Mr. Kasten's comments entitled, "Washington Nationals ponder leaving Viera spring training site", wherein Mr. Decotis writes that, "The Viera site,":
"...which includes Space Coast Stadium and the adjacent minor league training facility, is a minimum of an hour away from the two closest facilities, the Houston Astros complex in Kissimmee and the Atlanta Braves facility at Disney’s Wide World of Sports."
• Before the JUMP, check out a map of the Grapefruit League Stadiums...
"We have a lease that runs through 2017," Mr. Kasten said in his press conference, "Now, does that mean we stay there beyond that or leave earlier. I wouldn't rule anything in or out." The Nationals would consider a move to Arizona, according to Mr. Kasten, who says he's, "...been to every complex there except for two,":
"I know Mark [Lerner] has been to the two I haven't been to. And obviously we've been to every complex in Florida. So yeah, we're giving it a good hard look and examining all our options. And we're not at all ruling Viera out. We're keeping everything on the table."
In order to leave, the Nats, as Mr. Decotis notes in the article, would have to, "reimburse the county for Space Coast Stadium construction-bond payments until another team moves in," which Finance Director Steve Burdett is quoted in Mr. Decotis' article saying would, "average about $765,000 per year," until, "Stadium construction will be paid off in March 2013. Should the Nationals leave after paying off the bond the county would have to determine a consequence." Deputy County Attorney Shannon Wilson is quoted by Mr. Decotis as well, saying that, "Following the final bond payment," by the Nationals:
"...we would have to look at what the benefits of the contract to the County were, and what damages the County has suffered by their decision to leave."
Having seen what's happened to Dodgertown since the Dodgers departed, it's understandable why county officials in Viera would be against the Nats pulling up stakes and relocating their Spring home. Would it be worth it for Washington? LA moved their facilities out to Arizona to get closer to home. Washington would be the only east coast team to hold Spring Training out west. According to Mr. Decotis, officials with what was once called Dodgertown and is now known as the Vero Beach Sports Village, have contacted the Nats, "...to let them know the facility is an option."