• Osceola County seeking proposals for new baseball spring-training facility


    OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - The Washington Nationals will soon be leaving Viera and Brevard County -- which has pumped $5 million into its spring-training facility since 2005 -- for Osceola County.

    Osceola County appears to be gearing up to spend millions more taxpayer dollars to build a new stadium for the team in Kissimmee, but officials are being tight-lipped.

    Eyewitness News obtained a request for proposals from architects and engineers to build a two-team spring-training facility on what is likely county-owned property.

    Channnel 9 discovered the county manager notified the Tourist Development Council that Osceola County commissioners may take action within 30 days on a confidential project proposal to expand Major League Baseball spring training.

    Hotel owner and tourism development board member George Chen said the economic benefit is still unclear.

    "If it is a recurring event, of course it will add to the bottom line," said Chen, owner of Clarion Suites Maingate Resort.

    Spring is already the busiest season for Florida hotels.

    "The time we need the most help is the first week of June and the last three months of the year," Chen said.

    County commissioners will also have to answer the question of what will happen to the stadium if the Houston Astros leave when their contract is up in three years.

    The Astros are reportedly considering a move to south Florida.

    County Commissioner Frank Attkisson recently expressed concerns on May 13 at a meeting.

    "I have some real heartburn. My perception is we're about to be asked to spend  $20-, $30-, $40 million," Attkisson said.

    Attkisson said the money is the government's, paid by taxpayers.

    "I think we need to hear from citizens, and it needs to be presented and vetted," Atkisson said.

    State lawmakers approved a bill this year that provides matching funds to help cities and counties build new ballparks.

    Commissioners will meet on June 17 to discuss spring training.

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