Palm Beach remains Astros' priority spring locale

Palm Beach remains Astros' priority spring locale

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Don Miers, the sports facility manager for Osceola County Stadium, said Wednesday the county would be open to making improvements to keep the Astros from moving their Spring Training operations to another location when their lease expires in 2016.

Miers said the Astros and the county have resumed talks about the possibility of the club staying in Kissimmee, but club owner Jim Crane has made it clear he wants to move to Palm Beach County in southeast Florida and build a two-team facility with another team.

"The team has acknowledged we're an option," Miers said. "Mr. Crane has sent his attorney in to talk with one of our commissioners, and [president of business operations] Reid Ryan and I have had conversations. So anything's possible."

Astros general counsel Giles Kibbe, who's spearheading the team's spring relocation efforts, said in an email that the team's priority remains Palm Beach County.

"We have been very forthright in telling everyone that we are continuing to pursue a new complex in Palm Beach County," Kibbe wrote. "If we're unable to get that done, we will definitely renew discussions with Osceola County, and we will give Arizona further consideration. The Osceola County representatives and stadium staff have been very understanding and professional throughout this period. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them and the work they've done in Kissimmee."

The Astros' biggest issue with Osceola County Stadium is that it isn't located close to any major hotels, which makes for a long commute to and from the park for some players, coaches and staff. Miers said the county would be willing to renovate the stadium or do any other upgrades the team wants.

"If they can get a hotel closer to the site, then we can do whatever they need as far as improvements, whether it's taking down the stadium and making it larger and with different fan amenities," Miers said. "I think we're open to do whatever it takes to keep them here."

The county nearly had a deal to bring the Nationals aboard to share the site with the Astros last year, but it fell through. Miers said adding a second team could help keep Spring Training baseball in the area. The Braves are a short drive from Osceola County, and Nats are less than an hour away in Viera.

"The big challenge is nobody wants to be the last team here in this area," Miers said. "Between Atlanta, the Nationals and Astros, you have to keep two or all three of them, because nobody wants to be by themselves, because then you'd be the farthest to travel.

"If we could do a deal with the Astros and Nationals, great. If we could add a third team in the mix and keep the Braves in Osceola County -- not so much at Disney, but if they would come down this way and we could do something here to accommodate two teams and go across the street."

Any expansions or renovations of the current facility would require a significant financial investment.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.