It has been almost three full years from the time Jim Crane, owner of the Houston Astros, and Mark Lerner, principal owner of the Washington Nationals, met at the request of Palm Beach County, Florida to work together to build a new two-team spring training facility in South Florida.
Since then, Giles Kibbe, the Astros’ General Counsel, and Arthur Fuccillo, Executive Vice President of Lerner Enterprises, have worked tirelessly to make the facility a reality for the fans of the teams and Palm Beach County itself.
Fuccillo, who acted as my host for a tour of the complex, has been at Lerner for over thirty-five years. As such, he has been involved in all facets of legal work, the development of regional malls, major shopping centers, apartment complexes, hotels, the present day Nationals Park and significant other commercial developments.
However, since the Lerner family owns the Washington Nationals (and Fuccillo is a minority owner himself), he is asked from time to time to use his construction/development and legal experience to help in the business dealings of the baseball club. So it was only natural that he was asked to become involved in the zoning, negotiation and construction of the team’s new spring-training complex.
And he is quick to point out that, “as they say, we’re on time and on budget.” That budget, he said, is exactly $148,577,137.
And the timeline is in good hands. “Hunt Construction Group is working around the clock to get us open. They have over 650 people on site,” he added. “We cannot thank our consultants enough for all their hard work and time they have put into this project. We look forward to being here with the Houston Astros and having successful spring training seasons for the next 30 years.”
The parcel of land for this complex measures approximately 160 acres. When you subtract areas for parking, the three lakes within its borders and a ten-acre community park that will be built along its western edge, you’re left with less than 100 acres for the actual practice facilities and stadium. That made it critical to be efficient with the use of land.