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Report: Nationals could leave spring training in Viera

The Nationals appear to be planning a potential move away from their spring training facilities at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla., according to a report by Mark DeCotis of Florida Today.

The Nationals have shown interest in moving to a new facility in Kissimmee and sharing Osceola County Stadium with the Houston Astros. The Nationals would be motivated to leave Viera partly because of the isolated location compared with other teams based in Florida.

The Florida Today report quotes a letter from Nationals President Stan Kasten to Osceola County Manager Don Fisher. The letter, according to the report, reads:

It was nice speaking to you last Thursday and it was very interesting hearing about the potential for a new spring training complex in Osceola County.

I would certainly be interested in meeting with you and hearing more about your plans in greater detail, as we consider our own future spring training plans. In the event Osceola County is interested in moving forward, please let me know.

The Nationals have shown interest in moving before. Before the Nationals' final spring training game in Florida this year on April 2, Kasten and other members of the Nationals ownership group toured the Red Sox' facility in Fort Myers. The Red Sox will be moving out of City of Palms Park to move into another facility in Fort Myers in 2012.

Moving to Kissimmee would place the Nationals next to the Astros and also bring them closer to the complexes of the Tigers, Braves, Yankees and Blue Jays. The Nationals are currently the only team that must bus at least 45 minutes to reach any opponent.

The Nationals inherited Space Coast Stadium when the organization formed in 2005. The Marlins had used the complex, but as part of a deal with Major League Baseball, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria moved the Marlins' spring training to Jupiter, swapping with the Expos/Nationals franchise.

The Nationals have a lease with Space Coast Stadium until 2017. If the Nationals break their lease, they would need to pay the county $765,000 a year, according to the report.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 5, 2010; 3:26 PM ET
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And this matters to who outside Viera?

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | August 5, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

It matters to 1) me, because my parents live near Kissimmee and I can get to the games more conveniently; and 2) Panera shareholders, who should sell when markets open tomorrow.

Posted by: Bethesdangit1 | August 5, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

That would give Shawn Hill one less thing to look forward to in the spring.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | August 5, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"If the Nationals break their lease, they would need to pay the county $765,000 a year" Wouldn't that be a waste of money that could be used on players? Of course, maybe I'm wrong

Posted by: camps17 | August 5, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I love the move. It puts it that much closer to where I stay in Florida, and closer to other teams. Could attend two games in one day without having to drive across creation.
PS - When have the Nats ever spent $765K on any player? The Learners will do anything to save a dollar.

Posted by: Batboy05 | August 5, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

camps17 points out the main reason this matters. It's possible that, between increased revenue at their new site and some cash thrown into the deal with the government of their new locale, the Nats won't have to shell out $765K a year to get out of the deal. But it would be important to know, in the end, if this had a financial impact on an annual basis and if it affected player moves.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 5, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

That would give Shawn Hill one less thing to look forward to in the spring.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | August 5, 2010 4:21 PM
Wow, whatever happened to Shawn "The Trill" Hill?

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | August 5, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess the most important thing is to reduce the team's time on the buses, but I for one really like Viera and really look forward to it every spring. It's low key, easy-going, kinda out in the country, wide open--everything Washington is not! Now if I were a player (or a sportswriter), I wd probably want someplace more lively. But on second thought, I think I read that Josh willingham often heads to the pond on the golf course in Viera at the end of the day to fish. Has anyone asked him if he wants to give up fishing to be in Kissimmee? See what I mean about the place? For me, I wd be very sad to see the team move. Moreover, in 2009 we went to a game in Kissimmee, and I didn't like it anywhere near as much as Space Coast Stadium. At Viera, we could stand around the practice fields (behind the fence, of course). At Kissimmee they wouldn't let us anywhere close, and they weren't nice about it, either. Another point--I believe the Viera area stands to take a hit from changes in the space program. This will not be good news to them. Well, this may be better for the players, and it may raise the Nats' profile a bit, but I will really miss Viera if it happens. I hope they'll take their time getting this organized.

Posted by: Section109 | August 5, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the more you all fill me in on Viera, the more it sounds like a really undesirable place to have a spring ballclub. As for me, whenever I go down for spring training, I see the Nats on the road because their road sites are so much easier to get to from any place you'd want to be, to paraphrase Charlie.

Maybe that will change.

Posted by: paulkp | August 5, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Just looked up Shawn Hill on Had Tommy John surgery (second time for this in 5 yrs)in June 09 while w/San Diego, which released him unconditionally in Oct 09. Toronto signed him to a minor league contract in January, but I don't see anything after that. Nice guy, sorry to see all this happening to him.

Posted by: Section109 | August 5, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

skins_fan_22; it matters to me here in Arlington, VA because I am able to visit spring training to watch the Nationals for two or three weeks, and it's a long drive to any of their road games during those trips. In a similar vein I might ask you why there's been so much coverage about a footbal player being unable to pass a conditioning test. I mean, "And this matters to who"?

Posted by: greggwiggins | August 5, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Viera is a one-hour drive from the Orlando airport and about the same from Kissimmee. We never tried to go anywhere else. We went for a weekend--always found one with two games on the weekend in Viera, except for 2009 when it was one in Viera and the other in Kissimmee. I've never been to ST before the Nats came to Washington, and to me it was great. But I guess I didn't have the big picture. I suspect the proximity to the players and the relaxed atmosphere will not be the same elsewhere. For me, that's sad.

Posted by: Section109 | August 5, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

BUT ... BUT.... I bought a condo sofa in Titusville!

The Melbourne airport used to have regular flights from DCA, and relatively cheap ones at that, but if you have to change in ATL it's no fun at all anymore.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 5, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

So, just thinking out loud, back of a napkin, top of my head, blue sky, running it up the flagpole, tell me what you think: if they had a Nationals (NB NOT Expos) fantasy camp some January, what retired players would you like to see there, assuming arguendo you'd pay to attend such a thing?

Carlos Baerga--Gotta be there. Vinny, absolutely. Patterson? Maybe. Nook. Wil Cordero? IDK.
No way Frank comes, I'm thinking.

The thought comes to mind because I heard the O's have bailed on theirs, UH-Gain, for next year.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 5, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

btw, Stan-- if you use this, I want a scholarship to the first one.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 5, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Kasten is playing Viera to get improvements made to Space Coast, the city would be wise to hold off on spending any money because the Nats are gone in 2014 once the stadium bonds have been paid off.

That being said, I'd love for them to move closer to Orlando.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 5, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

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