It has been just over a month since Houston Astros and Washington Nationals started clearing trees and debris from their new spring training home south of 45th Street in West Palm Beach.
But the 160-acre site, a former landfill, looks vastly different than it did for the previous six-plus decades. (Click here to see a video of what the site used to look like.)
Land clearing started Nov. 10. Gone are the rows and rows of Australian pine trees and shrubs.
You can now stand in front of Palm Beach Lakes High School on Military Trail (opposite of the east side of the complex) and look west and see cars traveling on Haverhill Road (opposite of the west side of the complex).
“This is a mining project. We are removing about 180,000 cubic yards of garbage that’s been disposed on that site over the last 60-something-odd years,” said Tom McNicholas, a representative for the teams, told the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council on Friday.
The site is now surrounded by a 6-ft. chain link fence. On the northwest corner of the land — visible from Haverhill Road — is a huge mountain of sand, which will be used for construction.
There’s also a huge pile of gravel near the main entrance off Haverhill Road. And on the southwest corner are a cluster of relocated cabbage palm trees that will be planted throughout the site as construction nears completion.
“We are putting so many trees back on these practice facilities,” McNicholas said.
“This place is going to be phenomenal for local kids coming across the street from Palm Beach Lakes (High), dropping their bikes and sitting under the trees and bleachers (to watch practice) and it doesn’t cost a dime. They can see Bryce Harper of the Nationals.”
The Astros will practice generally on the north end of the site with the Nationals on the south end. Most of the fields practice will be close to Military Trail, with the main stadium in the middle of the site.
The main stadium will probably have a navy blue color theme — that’s the color the Astros and Nationals have in common.
“You won’t see many oranges or reds too predominant unless you are on the practice fields,” he said.
He said the teams also are gearing up on their search for a general manager who will be in charge of the stadium, now called The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Physical construction will start some time early next year. The complex is slated to open in January 2017.