Palm Beach County Florida officials are holding Roger Dean Stadium improvements hostage until the St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins agree to stay beyond 2017.
Despite leases in place through 2017, the St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins are being pressured by their spring training Jupiter, Florida landlord. Palm Beach County managers will not release money set aside for improvements to Roger Dean Stadium until the two organizations commit to ten year lease extensions, reports the Palm Beach Post.
The Cardinals have trained in the Jupiter facility since it opened in 1998 after moving from their long-time home in St. Petersburg. St. Louis has a rehab facility there and both A-Advanced and Gulf Coast League clubs that call the complex their home during the regular season. According to the article, the Cardinals and the Marlins pay the first $250,000 in annual site expenses with the locals covering the remainder.
Both organizations are reportedly unwilling to commit to an extension unless they receive a clause enabling them to opt out of their leases if either the New York Mets or Washington Nationals move away from Florida’s east coast during that time.
There have been long-standing rumors of interest by the Nationals to relocate from Viera to Orlando, so the Palm Beach County officials may take issue with the proposed clause.
In recent years, the Dodgers left Vero Beach and the Orioles abandoned Fort Lauderdale. As a result, the Cardinals, Marlins and Mets play each other in the majority of their major league spring training games and all minor league spring contests.
A Marlins official commented in the article that both his club and the Cardinals are happy in Jupiter and have no plans to leave. No one from St. Louis was quoted. In other forums, Cardinals officials have commented frequently about the logistical problem, but they acknowledge no alternative is in sight – at least until their 2017 lease is up.
Between now and then, negotiations may become increasingly contentious.
In other related news, Roger Dean Stadium general manager Joe Pinto has resigned to move to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides in the Baltimore Orioles system. Jupiter Hammerheads GM Mike Bauer is acting until the Cardinals and Marlins replace Pinto, who had been in the job since 2007.
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