No more baseball in this city

By Alan Eskew
October 11, 2002

HAINES CITY, Fla.–Baseball City will soon be an oxymoron. A wrecking ball will soon be replacing a breaking ball at the complex, which has served as the spring training home and a Gulf Coast League affiliate of the Royals for the past 15 years.

The Astros are using the facility this fall for their instructional league, but once they break camp on Oct. 25, baseball will be past tense at the complex, which is at the intersection of Interstate 4 and U.S. 27 and about six miles from Haines City.

When the Royals moved there Fort Myers, Fla., in 1988, there was an amusement park, Boardwalk and Baseball, just outside the stadium, but that was shutdown after a couple of years. Before Boardwalk and Baseball, Circus World occupied the land.

The Royals' lease ended in 2002 and the buildings on the 366-acre site will be razed beginning early next year. Victor Posner Enterprises, which owns the land in Polk County, plan on using the land for 2,600 hotel rooms, 1,991 residential units, have about 34 acres for specialty and general retail and office space and about 24 acres for a business park.

Gregory Arnone, director of land procurement and development for Victor Posner Enterprises, said the existing 8,000-seat baseball stadium would come down.

The Royals are moving next February into a new facility, which they will share with the Texas Rangers, in Surprise, Ariz. for spring training. The Royals have trained their first 34 years in Florida.