Birds at the Ballpark: Astros, Nationals could have feathered company at new spring training home

If the busy skies over Palm Beach County’s latest public construction project are any indication, the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals could have some feathered company at their new spring training home in West Palm Beach.

Click the video and see for yourself: Birds — hundreds of them — have been flying over the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, roosting on newly-erected light towers, on the roof of clubhouse buildings and on batting cage overhangs, along with the upper reaches of palm trees around the site.

 

It’s too early to determine whether the birds will stick around when the Astros and Nationals start playing spring training games in February. But one bird expert who viewed video clips that were shot by The Palm Beach Post on Dec. 16, 2016 thinks they could be permanent season-ticket holders at the $144 million complex.

The ballpark, just south of 45h Street between Haverhill Road and Military Trail, is just a mile or two from the Palm Beach County landfill on Jog Road north of 45th Street.

Welder has some company from birds circling the Ballpark of the Palm Beach on Dec. 16, 2016
Welder has some company from birds circling the Ballpark of the Palm Beach on Dec. 16, 2016

“I think it will be a common occurance because of the proximity to the landfill,” said Ricardo Zambrano, a wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Zambrano identified the birds as “fish crows,” scavengers that can be found picking through trash cans at the beach.

“Once the baseball stadium opens, with fans eating French fries and food, I’m sure they will be hanging around more,” he said.

But there’s not much food on the site now, just construction workers.

Why so many birds now?

Birds fly over construction crews at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Dec. 16, 2016.
Birds fly over construction crews at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Dec. 16, 2016.

The 160-acre site used to be a city landfill years ago before it was covered with vegetation and trees such as tall Australian pine.

“I think that the open space that existed prior to the stadium was better bird habitat,” said Drew Martin of the Sierra Club, “but the birds will adjust and become a common fixture at the baseball stadium.”

The teams started clearing the site in November 2015 when the construction started. When the stadium and light towers started to rise in the last few months, the birds discovered new and lofty places to roost.

Another theory: New grass and fresh landscaping on the 12 practice fields and the main stadium.

“It’s a very organic place right now,” said Marc Taylor, the construction program manager for the Astros and Nationals.

“I would expect they always will be there when we are fertilizing or reseeding the grass.”

Flocks of birds could be seen Dec. 16 over the main stadium, sitting on the light towers.

“They seem to like to hover over the batter eye as most lawn work is happening at the stadium field,” Taylor said.

 

 

Hail to the (baseball) chiefs: Coolidge and Hoover in town to promote Ballpark of the Palm Beaches

Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover are in town today, golfing on Palm Beach, visiting Santa at the Palm Beach Outlets and mingling with fishermen at the Juno Pier.mall-kid

And it was hard to miss them, thanks to their larger-than-life heads.

“Calvin” and “Herbie,” as they’re known, are the presidential mascots of the Washington Nationals baseball team. They’re in town filming a video that will be shown before spring training games at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

We caught up with them at the outlets mall. Ben Walter, director of corporate partnerships at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, was kind enough to share photos from the mascots’ busy morning. We will catch up to them later in Juno Beach. Check out The Palm Beach Post later for a story.

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For $250, Ballpark of Palm Beaches offers early priority to buy season tickets

It will still be several months before tickets go on sale for the inaugural season at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, but fans can secure first priority by signing up for the exclusive Founder’s Club program.

Latest rendering of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches
Latest rendering of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches

For $250, fans receive first right to reserve seats when season tickets become available this fall for the 2017 season of the new West Palm Beach home of the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.

They’ll also be locked in to season ticket prices for the first two seasons.

There’s a limit a four tickets per membership and the $250 fee does not count as a seat deposit.

But the offer does include permanent name recognition on Founder’s Club signs located on the stadium concourse and a small personalized memento recognizing the Founder’s Club membership.

And members will get to take an exclusive tour of the ballpark just before it opens, which is scheduled for January.

Applications can be found at www.BallparkPalmBeaches.com. The website page has a Founder’s Club link to download. All submissions should be sent to Info@BallparkPalmBeaches.com or by Fax: 561.408.0723.

Brady Ballard, general manager for The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches
Brady Ballard, general manager for The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches

Future announcements regarding ticket availability, job opportunities and the 2017 Spring Training schedule will be posted this Fall on @BPPalmBeaches Facebook and Twitter. All inquiries should be directed to http://www.BallparkPalmBeaches.com and can be addressed to Info@BallparkPalmBeaches.com.

Season tickets will be made available sometime in the fall, said Brady Ballard, general manager of the $144 million stadium south of 45th Street between Haverhill Road and Military Trail.

“We are building our seat manifest and working with our newly hired ticket software partner,” he said.

“We also await the 2017 spring training schedule.  Ticket prices will be announced much closer to the availability date.”

 

Let there be light! Towers rise at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches

Until last week, the construction site at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches didn’t offer any hints that it would one day be home to a Major League Baseball spring training facility.

That changed Thursday when crew installed light towers on one of the Washington Nationals’ six practice fields.

Light poles went up Thursday on one of the Washington Nationals' six practice fields at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Light poles went up Thursday on one of the Washington Nationals’ six practice fields at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. (Photo courtesy of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and McNicholas and Associates.)

Now, “Driving by it, it stands out as ‘That’s a baseball field,”’ said Brady Ballard, general manager of the ballpark.

The Nationals and Houston Astros will share the $144 million facility starting in January just south of 45th Street between Haverhill Road and Military Trail.

“We all know it’s a tight schedule but we are on schedule,” Ballard said.

Each team will get six practice fields. Of the 12 fields, two will be up to Major League Baseball standards, including light poles.

The light poles at the main stadium haven’t gone up yet. In fact, the main stadium doesn’t quite look like a baseball facility yet, at least not from your car window on Military Trail or Haverhill Road. But that will change in the coming months.

In about two weeks, crews will start to install grass on some of the practice fields.

On Friday, the teams loaned some of their construction crews to help make improvements at a nearby church just north of the baseball facility.

 

Palm Beach County to Atlanta Braves: No bed tax money available for spring training complex

The new spring training home of the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals is quickly taking shape in West Palm Beach, as you can see in the video below.

But plans by the Atlanta Braves to move to John Prince Park in suburban Lake Worth are going at a much slower pace.

 

Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker met with two top Braves officials in her office this past Monday but she said there wasn’t much progress.

Atlanta Braves vice chairman John Schuerholz
Atlanta Braves vice chairman John Schuerholz

In fact, she said the team officials still haven’t presented her with a written proposal of how they plan to pay for the $100 million facility they want to build in no the south end of John Prince.

Baker also said she told the Braves not to expect the county to contribute revenue from a local hotel tax.

The County Commission did pledge so-called “bed tax” money last year for the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the $144 million complex south of 45th Street where the Astros and Nationals will play starting in January.

But Baker said she told Braves chairman Terry McGuirk and vice chairman John Schuerholz earlier this week, “There are no bed tax dollars. It is not there.’’

She said the Braves indicated hope that Lake Worth and other towns near John Prince Park might contribute revenue to the project.

Baker said she has no plans to discuss the Braves during Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.

“There’s nothing to discuss,’’ she said. “They’re telling me they’re on a time crunch. I told them I still need a written proposal.’’

Now pitching for the Atlanta Braves: Collier County

Update: Collier County commissioners did not embrace the proposal this morning and asked the Braves to meet with county staff about other potential locations in the county.

Five residents spoke to commissioners, all against the proposal.

 

Original post:

Collier County commissioners will hear a proposal this morning to build a spring training complex for the Atlanta Braves east of Naples on Florida’s southwest coast.

The proposal, being pitched by a private development group, would compete against interest by some Palm Beach County officials to build the Braves a facility in John Prince Park west of Lake Worth.

Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker, who met with Braves officials on Friday, said she was still waiting for a formal proposal from the team.

The Naples Daily News said Collier County could spend up to $135 million in tourist tax money to build, finance and maintain the project over 30 years.

The Collier County Commission is scheduled to discuss the Braves at 10 a.m. this morning. The meeting can be seen live on the county’s website.

“We believe that relocating our spring training operations to a new facility in Naples and Collier County would be mutually beneficial to our organization and the citizens of Naples and Collier County,” Braves vice chairman John Schuerholz wrote Jan. 4 in a letter that was included in the private group’s proposal.

Schuerholz has a home in Naples.

 

New web site goes online for the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches

The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches has launched a new web page.

Screen shot of the landing page for the new web site for The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Screen shot of the landing page for the new web site for The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Like the actual ballpark south of 45th Street in West Palm Beach, the web page is still being developed.

But the initial landing page, which went online Friday, offers a few general details for now, including links to the official web pages of the teams that will share the 160-acre complex, the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.

Brady Ballard, the general manager of the ballpark, said the future website will include lots of images, links and information along with “key details of the ballpark experience, ticket information, team schedules and a calendar of non-spring training events.”

“More details to come as we build the site.”

The ballpark itself is supposed to open by January 2017.

 

 

From one old landfill to another, sabal palm trees uprooted by baseball project find new home

From one old landfill to another, more than 50 sabal palm trees are finding a new home after being uprooted by the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

Crews remove a sabal palm from the baseball construction site. (Photo by McNicholas & Associates)
Crews remove a sabal palm from the baseball construction site. (Photo by McNicholas & Associates)

As part of the construction process at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, work crews are relocating 53 sabal palms to Dyer Park, a former landfill owned by Palm Beach County.

The healthy trees had stood at an old West Palm Beach landfill south of 45th Street. But they’re being moved to make room for a 160-acre spring training complex. They’re being moved this week via trucks.

Workers started removing the trees Friday. They’ll finish moving them by the end of this week, according to McNicholas & Associates, the public relation firm for the spring training complex.

Sabal palm is replanted at Dyer Park. (Photo by McNicholas & Associates)
Sabal palm is replanted at Dyer Park. (Photo by McNicholas & Associates)

The trees are being moved from the current site in order to make sure they are not damaged during construction.

The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will have thousands of new palm trees, hardwood and shade trees when it opens in January.

“The layout of the stadium and the surrounding fields will include an inviting natural environment for fans attending Astros and Nationals games along with non-Spring Training activities,” the firm said in a press release.

If you would like more information on the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches or to be placed on a future ticket-interest contact list, send an email to info@ballparkpalmbeaches.com.

 

 

Atlanta Braves double-header: Supporters and opponents to face off at two public meetings today

BRAVES FANSSupporters of a proposal to bring the Atlanta Braves to John Prince Park are planning to attend two public meetings today where opponents plan to ask government leaders to reject the idea.

Residents around Lake Osborne plan to speak to the Palm Beach County Commission today about their concerns.

A flyer that started circulating Monday urged supports to attend the same meeting as well as a Lake Worth City Commission meeting tonight to voice their support.

The Braves plan is not on the regular County Commission agenda today. But it will be brought up by residents during Matters by the Public, which starts at 2 p.m.

The Lake Worth City Commission will consider a resolution supporting the project.

 

 

Will new West Palm Beach baseball complex be home to World Series winner next spring?

If the experts at one national sports magazine are correct, the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will host the World Series winner when the new West Palm Beach spring training complex opens in January.

Sports Illustrated predicts the Houston Astros to win the World Series this year.ASTROS SI COVER

Before you start buying champagne, take note that a year ago this time, Sports Illustrated predicted the Cleveland Indians would win the 2015 World Series.

The Indians finished 81-80 and missed the playoffs. The Kansas City Royals, who won the World Series, weren’t even picked by the magazine to make the playoffs.

Perhaps the Astros are destined to become the latest victims of the Sports Illustrated jinx, the urban legend in which sports figures who appeared on the front of the magazine have come down with injuries, lost big games or suffered some other unfortunate misfortune.

The Astros and Washington Nationals will share the $144 million complex south of 45th Street next year.

Construction is still ongoing and there’s lots to be done over the next 10 months but officials with both teams say they will play their first games there starting in late February.

The Astros’ final game at Osceola Stadium in Kissimmee, Houston’s spring home since 1985, ended without a pitch being thrown. It was rained out Saturday.

The Nationals’ were also rained out of their final game at Space Coast Stadium, the franchise’s spring home since 2003, in Viera on Monday.