Every year, it seems like there is some chirping that the Brewers could make the move from Arizona to Florida for Spring Training. Every year, nothing really happens.
This season has seen that chirping continue, though there is a little bit of a different twist: According to Adam McCalvy, a 'Florida city' called Mark Attanasio with a proposal that the Brewers owner said 'could be interesting'.
In particular, Milwaukee has been linked to Dunedin, FL, which is located near Tampa -- across Old Tampa Bay, a distance of about 25 miles. The Toronto Blue Jays (who may be looking at a new complex elsewhere in Florida) hold spring training in Dunedin while the Yankees have their camp set in Tampa. The Orioles in Sarasota, Tigers in Lakeland, Phillies in Clearwater, and Pirates in Bradenton would all also be nearby.
Of course, whether Dunedin is the 'mystery city' as it were is unknown. Most Grapefruit League teams are either around the Tampa area on the west of the state or West Palm Beach on the east side of the state which, I never realized, is totally confusing. Get it together 'West' Palm Beach.
The Brewers did sign a 10-year lease extension with Maryvale, where their current spring training complex is located, in 2013. However, that lease contains several opt-out options of which the team could take advantage. Importantly, those opt-out options are available to the Brewers beginning following the 2015 season and each proceeding year so long as the team provides one-year notice.
Maryvale had invested $1.5 million in improvements to the complex as part of the lease extension with the Brewers, which were primarily used for upgrades to the clubhouse and weight rooms. If the Brewers do make a change, Florida will benefit financially: Fans of the team have brought in about $3 million in direct spending to Phoenix each spring while the team pays around $300,000 in taxes.
The Brewers have been in Maryvale since 1998 when the stadium was first built. They have been in Arizona since the franchise's inception as the Seattle Pilots. Recently, the teams attendance has been among the lower-end of the rankings for spring games. If the organization believes Florida is a more desirable location for fans to travel to, that could very well influence any decision to be made. Tampa is about a 500-mile shorter drive than Phoenix for Wisconsinites.
If the Blue Jays move out of Dunedin and the Brewers move in, Milwaukee could take over Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and the Engelbert Training Complex. Worth noting is the fact the stadium actually holds about 1,500 fewer people (5,500 vs 7,000) than the Brewers' current stadium in Maryvale.
When it was first reported the Blue Jays were seeking alternatives, it seems Dunedin was open to discussing building a new complex in hopes Toronto would stay. This is pure speculation, but reading between the lines makes me wonder if the proposal from the unknown city was Dunedin trying to lure the Brewers with the same offer of a brand-spanking new complex.
With each year passing, more and more rumors spring up that the Brewers could jump ship to the Grapefruit League. Perhaps the time for that to actually happen is coming sooner than later.