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Washington Nationals receive offer to stay at Space Coast Stadium

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - County commissioners are trying to persuade the Washington Nationals to keep their spring training at Space Coast Stadium.

"Pitch books" will soon be in the hands of team owners in hopes they will move their spring training program to Viera.

"We have a stadium that we need to do something with," Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher said.

It takes about $1 million to maintain the training facility and the stadium, and county leaders fear if the Nationals move out, the stadium seats would remain empty.

Fisher wants Space Coast Stadium to be put to good use. He just sent an eight-page pitch to the Washington Nationals on why they should keep calling Viera home for spring training.

"We've spent a lot of money over the years keeping it up and maintaining it," Fisher said.

The Major League Baseball franchise said in early 2013 that it might want to end its contract with the county three years early, meaning by 2014, the $33 million facility wouldn't see much playing time.

In response, the county made an offer stating that in exchange for a 20-year lease agreement with the Nationals, they would spend $29 million on renovation of he facility.

Fisher not only sent that offer to the Nationals, but plans on sending it to every Major League Baseball team owner.

"I just know them and a lot of other teams are looking so we just think, if people are going to look, why not look over here too," Fisher said.

Fisher said the money would come from tourism tax dollars, rebonding the property and also state funds.

"We think that makes us pretty attractive to most teams," Fisher said.

A study conducted for the county showed every year an MLB team stays in Viera means an extra $20 million flows into the local economy.

County leaders said they have other ideas on how to fill the stadium's seats without a major league franchise, but they would prefer the lease agreement.