The exhibit — “For the Love of the Game: Baseball in the Palm Beaches” — offers an impressive microcosm of how baseball and the local area have influenced each other since the 1897 when Henry Flagler built a baseball diamond to entertain his hotel guests on Palm Beach.
It covers the area’s 120 history with baseball, including the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the new spring training home of the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.
The exhibit, which runs through next July, was planned to open today as a run-up to the new spring training facility south of 45th Street and west of Interstate 95.
“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.
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.
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.’’
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.”
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The billboard – it urges residents to attend a County Commission meeting on Tuesday to voice their concerns about the baseball proposal – was supposed to make its rounds around the park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Friday through Monday, starting Friday.
But the billboard arrived six hours late from Miami because the truck that was pulling it broke down Friday on Interstate 95.
Once it arrived at the park, around 5 p.m. Friday, the truck had to change one of the routes. Turns out the billboard was too high to fit under the Six Avenue South bridge that passes above Lake Osborne Drive – an 11-ft. clearance.
Then on Saturday, park rangers chased the truck off of the roads within the park, citing policy and safety issues.
The truck driver, Shamir Pinchinat, took it all in stride. He and his co-driver, Thierry Bruno, were polite and cordial with rangers. They improvised and drove on roads around the park.
“We’ve gotten a lot of thumbs-up from people and cars honking in support,’’ Pinchinat said, talking to a reporter while the truck idled at a stop sign on Snowden Drive, just east of the park.
The truck will make some rounds in downtown West Palm Beach on Tuesday morning, just before the County Commission meeting, which starts at 9:30 a.m.
The baseball proposal is not on the commission’s agenda. And County Administrator Verdenia Baker said she does not plan to bring it up during her comments.
But several Lake Osborne residents plan to voice their concerns at 2 p.m., during the Matters by the Public section of the meeting. They live close to the park and they fear it will be destroyed if the Braves build a complex there.
The county had planned to start $2 million in improvements at the park, including a new dog park and gazebos. A ground-breaking ceremony was scheduled for Wednesday.
But the ceremony was canceled and the improvements postponed until the commission decides on whether to pursue luring the Braves to the park.
A majority of commissioners have told The Post that they support exploring the idea. But when commissioner Shelley Vana brought it up last week at a workshop, the commissioners said they wanted to wait until the Braves submit a formal proposal.
Baker said in a text message Saturday that she has not received a proposal yet.
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.
The $100 million baseball complex would be east of the county-owned park’s Congress Avenue entrance, north of the Lantana airport and south of Sixth Avenue South. It would not encroach on Lake Osborne, which meanders north to south on the east side of the park.
The Braves have not publicly said how many acres are needed, but sources said it would be far less than the 135 acres sought by the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros when they briefly considered the south end of the park for a two-team facility.
The Nationals and Astros ultimately rejected John Prince Park – they’re now building a complex in West Palm Beach — because of time-consuming permitting issues associated with encroachments into canals and the lake. Those encroachments would not exist under the Braves’ preliminary plan, sources said.
There were plenty of signs of progress during a brief tour Taylor took with two reporters.
South of where she stood, the crews met a milestone Wednesday when they started carving out the first of six Nationals practice fields. The fields will be built in counterclockwise direction, ending with the six Astros practice fields in the north end of the 160-acre site.
And just east of 12-acre lake, all of the trash mounds have been removed from the Nationals’ side. Some trash mounds were transferred to the north end of the site, on the Astros’ side, but they will be carted off to the county landfill later this spring.
The teams also are about to pour concrete for the slabs at the base of the grand staircase at the main entrance on the west side of the stadium.
Concrete will be poured at the Astros clubhouse in three weeks. Slabs for the Nationals club house were pored Dec. 28.
By the end of April, structural steel will start to rise at the main stadium.
“We are not behind no any of the critical dates,’’ said Giles Kibbe, general counsel for the Astros.
The Nationals are finishing up their final spring in Viera while the Astros are finishing up their final spring in Kissimmee.