Houston Astros, looking to build new Spring Training facility in Palm Beach, hire uber lobbyist Brian Ballard

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The Houston Astros, reportedly looking into building a new Palm Beach Gardens spring training facility to share with another ball club, have retained uber lobbyist Brian Ballard, state registration forms show.

“We are still trying to figure out what is best for our (Houston Astros) franchise,” said Giles Kibbe, general counsel for the Houston Astro We feel there is a space to fill there (Palm Beach Gardens) that would stabilize spring training on the east coast of Florida. We are interested in making something happen there (Palm Beach Gardens), but we are a long way from getting that done.”

The Astros are looking at an 82-acre site between Central Boulevard and Interstate 95 in Palm Beach Gardens valued at $2.7 million.

in Tallahassee, the wheels are already turning to produce more cash to seal deals on ballparks like the one the Astros want.

In an amendment to a larger economic incentives bill, a Senate budget subcommittee voted Wednesday to offer cash for upgrading or building spring training facilities. Stadiums that host one team could apply for up to $20 million over a 30-year span. Facilities with two teams could receive $40 million. Local governments would have to match the state money, and payouts would start in 2015-16.

The amendment by Sens. Jack Latvala and Kelli Stargel is also in line with Gov. Rick Scott’s push to keep spring training teams from leaving Florida for Arizona.

The cash would come at a time when Florida’s east coast spring training scene is in flux. Currently, four teams train on the east coast. That’s a critical number to maintain for St. Lucie County. In their contract, the New York Mets can leave if three or fewer teams train nearby. So can the Cardinals.

“I think the Governor (Scott) recognizes the importance of stabilizing spring training on the east coast of Florida and also realizes the impact of what another two-team facility would have there,” Kibbe said. “It would create a spring training hub in the Palm Beach area if there were four teams located there. And, I think, everyone would agree that fans from all over the country – fans from many different teams – would fly into Palm Beach to watch teams come in and out of that area playing against those four teams.”

Material from Scripps TV Station Group was used in this post.

 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.