March 20, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; A grounds crew worker paints a line on the field before the spring training game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Caught in the Middle. Braves Mulling Departure From Disney?

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It’s the happiest place on earth:  Walt Disney World!  But it’s also getting a bit lonely in the middle of the state, according to the Braves.

Tim Tucker, writing an exclusive report for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today, raises the thought that the Braves might consider leaving their current Spring Training complex at the ESPN Wide World of Sports/Disney World when their lease expires in 2017.

The reason for such a thought involves logistics – plain and simple.  In fact neither financial nor facilities reasons were cited at all within the article.

Here’s the map of the current Grapefruit League teams (click it to embiggen it):

GrapefruitLeague

Clearly, most squads are currently located along the Gulf (of Mexico) coast.  Two teams, Houston and Washington, have recently expressed concerns with their current homes at Kissimmee and Viera, respectively.  The Astros have been there since 1985.  The Nationals have a newer home (which originally was for the Marlins), but it sits in a swamp – pretty much like the entire development known as Viera (dunno if they really care about that, but it’s just a fun fact).

There has been noise of moving both teams to West Palm Beach, which once housed both the Braves and the Twins, but nothing is moving very quickly on that front yet.  The Astros are also looking at the possibility of moving to Arizona, following both the Reds and Dodgers who have fled Florida in recent years.

Regardless, the Braves are looking at this chart and wondering if they will still have two of their three closest neighbors nearby when 2017 rolls around.

A lot of people who haven’t been to Florida simply don’t realize just how big the peninsula is.  Interstate 4, which runs from Daytona to Tampa is 132 miles long.  A drive from Tampa to Ft. Myers is almost that same length.  Thus any trip from Disney to Jupiter or Ft. Myers runs the Braves around three hours of travel time – each way – which limits the number of trips they can make during the Grapefruit season.  The Cactus League teams don’t have this kind of problem – most of them are pretty well clustered within the greater Phoenix area.

At this point, Atlanta is merely beginning to explore options.  But one option they would prefer to avoid is in playing the Tigers a dozen times every Spring.

 

This will take some time to percolate – and no one is ruling out staying put, either.

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