Homestead Sports Complex
|Full name||Homestead Sports Complex|
|Owner||City of Homestead|
|Capacity||Baseball - 6,500|
|Field size||Left Field: 322ft
Center Field: 400ft
Right Field: 322ft
|Built||1991 & 1993|
|Structural engineer||Bliss & Nyitray, Inc|
Homestead Sports Complex is a baseball training facility located less than three miles from downtown Homestead, Florida. The facility, seats 6,500 and expands to 9,000, and provides parking for over 3,900 vehicles. A 200 bed dormitory facility located on the grounds of the Homestead Sports Complex complements the training facilities. The dormitories consist of 30 single rooms and 84 double rooms that are complete with restrooms, showers, dressing areas, a full service kitchen and recreational areas.
In 1991 the City of Homestead built the Sports Complex at a price tag of 22 million dollars in order to provide a Spring Training facility for the Cleveland Indians. The stadium was widely recognized as being state-of-the-art for the time period, as it included multiple practice facilities as well as dormatories for players. The Indians had previously played in the Cactus League in Arizona but had signed a deal to make Homestead their long-term Spring Training home. Cleveland was due to begin full-time play at the stadium in the 1993 season. In 1992 they had already begun moving equipment and personnel to Florida. However, on August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew made landfall in Homestead as a Category 5 cyclone with winds reaching 165 mph. The stadium, directly in the path of the hurricane, was decimated. The Indians quickly began meetings with lawyers and eventually they exercised an "out clause" in the contract.
The city decided to immediately re-construct the stadium hoping that they could have it built for the 1994 Spring Training season in order for the Indians, or perhaps another team to use. However, without a spring facility for the 1993 season Cleveland was forced to look quickly for another home. The Boston Red Sox had been using Winter Haven, Florida's Chain of Lakes Park as their training facility for 26 years. However, the Red Sox were moving to Fort Myers for the 1993 season, thus allowing the Indians to use Chain of Lakes as their spring facility in the meantime. However, knowing the situation that the Indians were in, the City allowed the team to use the stadium on the condition that they sign a 10-year contract. Cleveland had no other choice, so they signed the deal and left Homestead without a team.
The City decided to continue re-building the stadium, assuming that at some point in the future they could lure another team to use it as their spring facility. The stadium was re-constructed in a very short period of time, as the original blueprints were kept. However, after about five years without a tenant it started to appear that the facility may never be used as a home for baseball. In the meantime, new spring training facilities were constructed such as Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida and Champion Stadium at Walt Disney World. The new stadiums began to surpass Homestead Sports Complex in terms of facility size and technology. The stadium had to look at other options in order to pay the nearly $450,000 per year in order to maintain it.
It was offered as a home for the US Soccer Federation to conduct its training, but they declined. In 1999 the facility was used as part of the filming of the Oliver Stone movie Any Given Sunday. In 2002 an HBO series called Baseball Wives was to be primarily filmed at the Stadium, but the show was canceled before ever getting off the ground. In 2004, it served as the home of the Florida Thunder, the city's Pro Cricket team. Recently the facility has hosted local youth and adult sports on the training grounds but the internal workings of the stadium such as bathrooms, electrical and plumbing have gone into disrepair. The park had been used as a home for the City of Homestead's Fourth of July celebration until the Homestead-Miami Speedway took over the duties in 2010, attracting an exponentially larger crowd than ever before.
It remains to be seen if the stadium will ever host spring training baseball. Given the age of the stadium and the condition that it currently sits in, it would be hard to find a tenant for the facility without spending large amounts of money on updates and improvements. A portion of the facility was sold and a company called Charter Schools USA will be building a school on the grounds.
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