2019 World Series Sees Houston Astros & Washington Nationals Compete For Palm Beach Bragging Rights

Michael Brantley #23 of the Houston Astros hits the ball in the sixth inning against the New York Yankees during a spring training game at The Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 20, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Yankees 2-1.
Joel Auerbach / Getty Images

As they face off in the 2019 World Series, the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals share the unique characteristic of not only sharing the final destination of their season but also the very beginning. Both teams started their years in the same West Palm Beach spring training facility, as reported by Florida Today. This marks the first time since 1942 that two teams that share the same spring training facility match up in the Fall Classic, when the then-St. Petersburg, Florida, residents New York Yankees met the St. Louis Cardinals. Now for only the second time in MLB history, the two spring training tenants of the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches bring an unexpected spotlight to West Palm Beach.

Serving as the spring home for both teams since 2017, the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches could become a unique angle in terms of World Series bragging rights, along with highlighting a controversial aspect of the stadium’s funding. According to a report by the Palm Beach Post, the cost of the stadium amounted to $153 million, with $113 million in local tourist tax money going towards the project. The problem is that the $40 million difference has yet to be paid, with contractors and subcontractors currently suing the teams over unpaid bills.

Tanner Rainey #21 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the St Louis Cardinals during a spring training game at The Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 26, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Cardinals defeated the Nationals 6-1.
  Joel Auerbach / Getty Images

In a Palm Beach County court filing, a contractor owed $600,000 claimed the following.

“For reasons known only to the Washington Nationals, Houston Astros and other owner-related entities… they continue to withhold, without explanation or support, millions of dollars owed to the various contractors that built the Ballpark.”

With both teams valued at $1.8 billion, it’s hard to see how such a relatively meager sum has become involved in such litigation, in particular considering the teams have boasted about the completed stadium, whose website states, “Come for a game, stay for the experience.”

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This issue could potentially become a point of the traditional World Series city bet, when the each team’s city’s respective mayor puts up a wager, usually in the form of their city’s staple dishes. While no mayoral bet has become official yet, the not-so-minor sum owed to the contractors and subcontractors of South Florida could become a suitable replacement for the barbecue of Houston or the chili of Washington D.C.

The 2019 World Series begins tonight, with the Nationals’ Max Scherzer facing off against the Astros’ Gerrit Cole in Houston’s Minute Maid Park. The first pitch is at 8 p.m. Eastern, and the entire series can be seen on FOX.