By Chris Umpierre
Spring training is an annual event for baseball fans. Hundreds of thousands of fans travel to Florida and Arizona each spring to watch their teams practice and play preseason games.
There’s just something about hearing that crack of the bat and smelling that fresh grass.
Palm Beach — which has hosted the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter since 2003 — is now the spring home to four major league baseball teams.
The new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches —a state-of-the-art, $150 million two-team facility — opened in February 2017 and is poised to positively impact everything from local real estate to shopping to tourism.
The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will host the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros every February and March.
Hundreds of thousands of fans from the nation’s capital and the nation’s fourth-most populous city will travel to Palm Beach County. Fans, owners and players will stay in Palm Beach hotels, shop at Palm Beach stores and purchase Palm Beach real estate.
The latter has already begun. The Astros recently purchased an old West Palm Beach office building near its spring training site with plans to renovate it as a major hotel for its players and the public.
All told, the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is expected to have a $125 million annual economic impact, according to an Oxford Economics study commissioned by Palm Beach County.
The impact goes beyond baseball. The 6,500-seat stadium also encompasses a 1.8-mile walking trail and new 12-acre city park, completed with a playground, green space, lighted basketball courts and pavilions. The ballpark will serve as a community destination for many years to come.