And while it has prompted several Florida municipalities to compete against each other to offer monster stadium subsidies to teams that may not have otherwise considered leaving Florida, it will also make it easier for the Sunshine State to steal teams away from Arizona.
The Phoenix Business Journal reports the Brewers, who have played the spring training stadium subsidy game before, are entertaining offers in Dunedin, Fla., which soon could lose the Blue Jays:
Somewhat surprisingly, a top Brewers executive did not deny the possibility the club would consider Florida.Four years ago, I criticized a Tampa Tribune editorial that sensationalized Grapefruit League flight. I even suggested Florida could pick up a team by courting the Brewers. But I also wrote that Ft. Myers' City of Palms Park, former home of the Red Sox, would be the state's top option for a new team.
“We are reviewing all of our options and have not ruled anything out at this point,” Bob Quinn, the Brewers executive vice president of finance and administration, told me via email late Monday.
(The team's recent contract extension) allows the Brewers to terminate the lease if the city of Phoenix does not make improvements the team has demanded to the athletic training facilities, office and clubhouse, according to MLB.com.
The Blue Jays’ contract with Dunedin expires in 2017 and the team has signed a letter of intent to move to Palm Beach Gardens on Florida’s east coast when a new stadium is built there, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports.
So don't be surprised if Lee Co. and Pinellas Co. eventually duke it out over which one can offer more money to court the Brewers. And don't be surprsied if its all just a ploy by the team to get Phoenix to pay for some major upgrades.
After all, Florida's stadium earmarks will ensure MLB - a $9 billion business - will never again have to pay for any real spring training stadium costs.
I hope to have some more next week when the Winter Meetings return to Orlando, Fla.