Something odd happened yesterday. The Baltimore Orioles moved their spring training home from Ft. Lauderdale to Sarasota. And you're thinking "so what?"
Well, let esplain. That means that there are NO baseball teams who call South Florida home during spring training. None in Miami-Dade. None in Broward. And none in Palm Beach. For being three of the most densely populated areas in the state, that's pretty unbelievable.
Spring training lasts for about 6 weeks, and the team brings in about 30 players, a dozen coaches and trainers, a slew of media people and a following of fans who come down to see their team. And all of them are spending money in our towns for that period of time. Its money that otherwise wouldn't be in our economy. There are also some jobs created for that period.
Each of the counties put off building a spring training complex because they felt it wouldn't help the local economy. And yet, the city of Miami is building that monstrosity for the Marlins, where it doesn't pump much *new* money into the economy, it simply redistributes what wealth is already being spent. Sure the opposing teams come down for a short stay, and some fans follow. And that's never a bad thing. But its not like a 6-week stay where players and fans come to soak in the weather at a great time of year.
And what of the Marlins? Their spring training home is in Vero Beach, which is ~2 hours north of Miami. And I think they have a long-term lease on that new stadium.
So....in summary, it didn't make economic sense to build a ballpark for any team to train in South Florida, but it makes sense to build a ballpark for regular play in Miami. Baseball isn't big enough to draw another team to a great location for a few weeks, but is big enough to draw attendance all summer? Riiiiight.