Spring Training Host Jupiter Backs Ball Park in Palm Beach Gardens

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Palm Beach Post (Florida)
November 14, 2013 Thursday
425 words
Jupiter council backs Gardens spring training;
Two more teams would help ensure Marlins, Cards stay.
By Bill DiPaolo Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Saying they want spring training to stay in southeast Florida, the town council has sent a letter of support to Palm Beach Gardens to build a new spring training stadium in that city.

"Spring training is an important economic engine. We need additional teams," said Jupiter Mayor Karen Golonka.

While thankful for Jupiter's support, Gardens Councilman David Levy said he expects the letter will have little impact.

"In the end, we will make our decision based on the desires of Palm Beach Gardens residents," Levy said.

Other Jupiter officials, including Roger Dean Stadium General Manager Mike Bauer, have voiced support for the new stadium that would host the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays. The 7,000-seat Roger Dean Stadium in Abacoa hosts the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins for the six weeks of spring training.

"We need the new stadium to keep the teams we have and attract more," Bauer said.

Jupiter's support is a big boost, said Giles Kibbe, general counsel for the Houston Astros.

"Jupiter's support reinforces that (the council) understands the real risk that if they do not build the new stadium, they could lose the teams they have," Kibbe said.

The new stadium is expected to cost about $100 million to build. The 117-acre site on the north side of 117th Court North across from Timber Trace Elementary and Watson B. Duncan Middle schools would include a dozen practice fields and grass parking lots.

By comparison, the property for Downtown at the Gardens is about 50 acres.

Jupiter officials noted that besides the six-week spring training season, the stadium and practice fields draw youth leagues and off-season tournaments.

"An additional facility in the area would complement current spring training activities at Roger Dean Stadium and strengthen the continuation of Major League Baseball in southeast Florida," the letter states.

Opposition in Palm Beach Gardens has come from residents of Shady Lakes and other nearby neighborhoods. Noise, lights, traffic and how the stadium will be financed are among the concerns.

Both support and opposition was heard during the Nov. 7 Palm Beach Gardens public meeting on the proposal. More discussions are planned with homeowners associations and individual residents. No date has been set for another public meeting.

"Gardens is battling with powerful neighborhoods to kill the deal. (City officials who favor the plan) are looking for support. Jupiter supports keeping spring training in southeast Florida," Jupiter Councilman Todd Wodraska said.

[email protected] Twitter: @Billdipaolo

November 14, 2013

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