At the southeast corner of 45th Street and Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach, just south of the power lines and the Royal Poinciana Apartments, is 160 acres of city-owned land currently covered with weeds, brush, and scrub trees.
A former yard waste dump site, the property is slated to become the Spring Training home of the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, beginning in 2017.
The Florida State Legislature still must approve the deal and no schematic drawings of the new ballpark have yet been released. However, assuming the ballpark design follows Major League Baseball Rule 1.04 which recommends that “the line from home base through the pitchers plate to second base shall run East Northeast,” home plate for the new ballpark will be located somewhere just south of the intersection of Haverhill Road and Leeper Drive.
Across from the proposed ballpark site, on Haverhill Road, is Advanced Disposal Services, a waste management company. Advanced Disposal operates a waste collection and disposal station at that location. It is a bit symbiotic, perhaps, that the Nats have chosen a spring training site across the street from a waste disposal plant, given that Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., is located across from the District’s main sewerage pumping station on O Street.
West Palm Beach boasts a proud Spring Training history, with ties to the Nationals franchise. West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium was located just five miles southeast of the Haverhill Road at 715 Hank Aaron Drive. Municipal Stadium was the spring training home of the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves from 1963 to 1997, and the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 1972 and 1981 to 1997. Demolished in 2002, the former ballpark site is now a gated housing development.
Connie Mack Field (formerly Municipal Athletic Field and Wright Field) was located approximately seven miles southeast of the Haverhill Road site at the intersection of Tamarind Avenue and Okeechobee Boulevard. Connie Mack Field was the spring training home of the St. Louis Browns from 1928 to 1936, and the Philadelphia/Kansas City Athletics from 1946 to 1962. Demolished in 1992, the former stadium site is now a parking garage for the Kravitz Center for the Performing Arts and a storm water retention pond.
Roger Dean Stadium is located just 12 miles north of the Haverhill site is at 4751 Main Street in Jupiter, Florida. Currently the spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins, from 1998 to 2001, the ballpark was the spring training home of the Montreal Expos.
Beginning in 2002, the Montreal Expos held spring training at the Nationals’ current Grapefruit League home, Space Coast Stadium, in Viera, Florida. With the Nationals’ move to West Palm Beach slated for 2017, the Nats have only one more season in Viera.
The Nationals relocation to West Palm Beach will be somewhat of a homecoming, with the Expos having previously trained at both Municipal Stadium and Roger Dean Stadium.
And beginning in 2017, Nationals stars such as Bryce Harper and Denard Span presumably will be “going yard” in what was once a place where the good citizens of West Palm Beach disposed of waste from their yards.