VIERA, Fla. - "Pitch books" have been prepared for distribution to the owners of Major League Baseball teams, in hopes that one or two of them will consider moving their spring training operations to Space Coast Stadium in Viera if the Washington Nationals decide to move elsewhere.
The effort is being coordinated by Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher, who was authorized by his fellow commissioners to try to either persuade the Nationals to keep their spring training in Viera or to find another team to take its place, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported.
Fisher last week mailed copies of the brochures to Nationals' executives. This week, he will send the brochures to officials of the other 29 major league teams to gauge their interest in moving their spring training home to Viera.
"I want a backup plan," Fisher said. "I want the Major League world to know that we're available for spring training."
The eight-page, full-color brochure includes an artist's rendering of what the 20-year-old stadium could look like, if the county agrees to provide $29 million in renovations. The proposed design is courtesy of the architectural firm that designed an upgraded Baltimore Orioles spring training complex in Sarasota, as well other sports complexes around the country.
The Nationals and the franchise's predecessor, the Montreal Expos, have held spring training at Space Coast Stadium since 2003. But the team is seeking a new spring training home, contending that Viera is too far from most other Florida training sites and that the stadium is in disrepair.
Fisher, in August, presented the Nationals with an offer for the team to stay in Viera: sign a new 20-year lease, and the county would spend $29 million upgrading the stadium and adjacent baseball facilities. The county would use hotel tax money and a matching state grant to pay for the work. The County Commission later authorized Fisher to extend the offer to the other 29 major league teams.
Fisher has not yet heard back from the Nationals on the offer.
Mike McBride, owner and chief creative officer of McBride Marketing Group, said he is working on the project of marketing the stadium, along with Fisher and Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Rob Varley. McBride designed the brochure that will be sent to team owners.
"Robin wanted to give them a visual to incite the imagination," although any team that comes here would have leeway in designing the stadium amenities to meet its needs, according to McBride, whose Melbourne-based firm does marketing work for the Space Coast Office of Tourism.
McBride said the architectural firm, Washington-based David M. Schwarz Architects Inc., gave him and Fisher conceptual designs — which are similar to the Orioles' Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota — without charge, since the firm could be a potential bidder on the Space Coast Stadium project if the county approves the idea. The design, printing and mailing of the brochures will cost about $1,500, paid for with hotel tax revenue, McBride said.
The brochure touts the 8,100-seat Space Coast Stadium as "your space for spring training," with the proposed renovations allowing the stadium to "go from good to great." It promotes Brevard County as "a location and lifestyle that is out of this world," both as a business and a recreational hub. Images are not only of baseball, but also of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Port Canaveral, the Brevard Zoo, Florida Institute of Technology, golfers, a fisherman and a surfer on the beach.
"Together," the brochure's pitch to team owners reads, "we can make Space Coast Stadium the spring training home you always imagined for your team."
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