The first tickets to the new Major League Baseball spring training facility in West Palm Beach went out this morning, but it’s not for a baseball game just yet.
The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals sent invitations to Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches — and the electronic invitations look like a traditional baseball game ticket.
“Baseball is fun and brings people together, so we wanted to create a feel from the past and add to the present,” said Tom McNicholas, a spokesman for the teams.
About 100 people are expected to attend, including MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the two team owners. But the event is invitation only to local dignitaries and media. It is not open to the public.
The teams say they are not purposely trying to exclude the public from the ceremony, which starts at 10:30 a.m. on the main entrance to the 160-acre site off Haverhill Road.
It’s more of a safety issue because of challenges on the construction site.
There is limited space for the ceremony on the land, which is still an old landfill with high weeds, debris piles and rough terrain.
A spot near the entrance off Haverhill Road is being mowed and cleared to make room for a makeshift stage and tent for the ceremony and for limited parking.
Full clearing of the 160-acre site is underway this week, with work starting in the center of the land on the footprint of the main stadium.
The stadium is scheduled to open in January 2017, marking the return of MLB spring training to the city for the first time since the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos left old West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium after the spring of 1997.