BOB:  Spring training war update

Wrigley Field renovation PR machine ramps up

The Chicago Cubs and the city of Chicago both appear to want large scale stadium renovations to Wrigley Field but there are still some hurdles to get through. As is usually the case, the side with the deep pockets usually puts forward a full press public relations campaign to get its point across and that usually means the taxpayers will be required to give something up.

As the plans for Wrigley’s renovations move forward, you’ll see more and more of these but the latest person to side with the “renovations” side is Jim Caple at ESPN.com. In his editorial, he discusses why and how this process could be slow but ultimately opines that the renovations should move forward.

It’s pretty slanted but he at least presents some of the other side’s arguments, namely the rooftop owners who might be blocked out by the new scoreboards. At first he describes them as squatters, then goes on to talk about the contract they signed with the team a decade ago. When the contract was signed, the rooftop owners put more money into their establishment and Caple ultimately concludes that the team should work with the rooftop owners as much as possible. He also talks about how the Cubs need to stop framing this as the team needing renovations to make money to succeed when it’s already one of the richest teams in baseball.

Spring training stadium update

The last couple of weeks I’ve talked about how the state of Florida is putting measures in place to be better able to keep its spring training teams with the current focus on a two team complex in Palm Springs. Palm Beach Gardens has a tract of land it can use and has some informal interest from the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays in moving there.

Meanwhile, the Palm Beach Post asked its readers whether they thought a stadium would be a good idea or if the heavy traffic and $100 million cost would be too much to bear. As always when you ask for reader opinions, you get some interesting responses.

In other news, the Washington Nationals are said to have an interest in breaking their spring training agreement after the 2014 season to pursue a new complex. Their lease runs out in 2017 in Brevard County, so we’ll see what kind of concessions the team will have to make to get out of the deal. The Nationals’ initial offer was to give the county control over the complex but that doesn’t appear to be enough and the county has appointed a negotiator to handle the situation.

Texas minor league update

There’s some news out of the Lone Star state with the current focus being in El Paso, where a new ballpark is set to open for the 2014 season in time for the Tuscon Padres to move there. The $50 million stadium is one of the focal points of a $473 million revitalization program in the city’s business district. The revitalization program is being financed by local bonds while the stadium is being built with money from a two percent increase in the city’s hotel occupancy tax.

Houston is also a focus of sorts and the independent Atlantic League is hoping to add two new teams in the city. It looks like the league is looking to round up a couple of ownership groups to expand. In addition, the Houston Astros are looking to bring a minor league affiliate to the city in the near future.

International draft shelved

MLB announced that it did not meet a June 1 deadline to implement a draft that covers international players for the 2014 season. For now, the current system (which is basically a free for all) will stay. The press release said that MLB and the union will continue to discuss the issue. This will benefit the teams that have strong international scouting operations while the teams that haven’t invested outside of the United States will be on the outside looking in.

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