Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals' lease at Space Coast Stadium runs through 2017.
It wasn't an ideal situation, housing spring training in a remote complex along Florida's east coast that isn't within an hour drive of any other facility in the Grapefruit League. But the Lerners seemed to accept they were tied to Viera for another decade-plus and even pumped in some of their own money to supplement a county-issued, $2.8 million renovation of Space Coast Stadium in 2007.
Now, though, it appears the Nationals are willing to break the lease and make the penalty payments if they can find another Florida facility to their liking.
According to a report today on the website of local newspaper Florida Today, Nats president Stan Kasten recently spoke to an official from Osceola County about the possibility of a new facility in Kissimmee, which currently houses the Astros' complex.
This news comes several months after Nationals officials, including principal owner Mark Lerner, toured the facility in Fort Myers that is due to be vacated by the Red Sox at the conclusion of spring training next year.
Kasten declined to comment on the Florida Today story.
It's highly unlikely any relocation would happen by next spring, but the Nationals certainly appear open, if not eager, to leaving Viera for another Florida location.
Osceola County sits in the middle of the state and houses Orlando's southern suburbs. Both the Astros (who have trained in Kissimmee since 1985) and Braves (who have trained at nearby Walt Disney World since 1997) hold their spring training camps in the county and are located closer to other Grapefruit League sites to the west (including the Tigers in Lakeland and the Yankees in Tampa) than Viera.
The Nationals franchise has trained at Space Coast Stadium since 2003, when the then-MLB-owned Expos were forced to move from Jupiter to Viera after new Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria insisted on having his club train in South Florida. Space Coast Stadium opened in 1994 and housed the Marlins its first nine springs.