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From spring training to… water park?

Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners are mulling what to do with Fort Lauderdale Stadium, abandoned last year by the Baltimore Orioles, who found a better deal for their spring training operations in Sarasota.

On Tuesday, the commission agreed to keep its aging stadium open for another seven months buying time to make a long-term decision on the future of the venue, which had been home to spring training – first the New York Yankees and then the Orioles – for nearly 50 years.

Traffic Sports, owner of Miami FC, the professional soccer team holding its home games at next-door Lockhart Stadium this season, which kicks off Saturday, will pay rent to use the baseball stadium and its grounds for practice, but also keep it open for community use. Traffic Sports wants to transform the old stadium into a soccer academy long-term.

The semi-professional men’s baseball league, the Federal League, wants to turn the stadium into a baseball academy. But perhaps the most radical idea is to transform it into a water park-hotel-retail sports destination. Schlitterbahn Development Group submitted a proposal to the city last week. Read my colleague Brittany Wallman’s story about the proposal here.

Any long-term use will need the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration, because the stadium sits on land owned by adjacent Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. The FAA wants the land used for aviation purposes or to be paid fair market rent for use of the site. That’s what hung up the proposal for the Orioles to revamp the stadium – the FAA wanted $1.3 million annually from the team.

Stay tuned.

Categories: Soccer (15), Spring Training (11)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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