Construction crews are scrambling to finish The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which is supposed to open less than a month from now when the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals report for spring training.
Roughly 650 workers are on site every day, many of them working 20-hour days. This video, shot on Jan. 10, shows how busy the site is. But keep in mind that what you see in the video probably looks much different from what the site looks like today.
A lot can get done in a week. But a lot still needs to be done before players and fans start arriving next month.
Rick Greene, the West Palm Beach building official in charge of making sure they facility is safe, said he’s “very optimistic” The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will open on time.
He said the Astros and Nationals last week started receiving “stocking certificates” from the city, allowing the teams to move in equipment and furniture to their respective clubhouses. This week and next week, he said, the city could start issuing “TCOs”, known as temporary certificates of occupancy, for different buildings on the 160-acre complex south of 45th Street.
“They are going for a temporary CO which allows the public or individuals to move into a building because all life safety issues have been addressed,” said Greene, the city’s director of development services.
” That’s not to say there might be some minor things still needed to get final COs but under temporary CO’s our big concerns at the city level are to make sure all life safety issues are addressed – (fire) sprinklers, elevators, handicapped parking, curbs to accommodate wheelchairs…’’
Final certificates of occupancy could be issued later this spring or after spring training, he said.
“The teams’ goal is to have folks walk on that site Feb. 18,’’ Greene said, referring to the date when the public will be allowed to watch players work out for the first time.
The first game is Feb. 28.
Issuing temporary COs and then final certificates at the last minute is not unusual for a big project.
“We went through the same thing with the Palm Beach Outlets,’’ he said, referring to the outlets mall that opened in 2014 on the old Palm Beach Mall site on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard just east of Interstate 95.
“We were issuing COs on the night of the grand opening,’’ Greene said.
“We’ve been down this road before. It’s actually a little bit easier because we’re dealing with just two ball teams unlike the mall.’’
Is there a chance the facility will look vastly different in spring 2018 than it will look this March?
“It may not be radically different,’’ Greene said. “It may not be perceptible from this year to next.’’