3/4/2014 2:11 P.M. ET
Crane gears up for spring facility presentation
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Astros owner Jim Crane said he is scheduled to meet with Palm Beach County officials on Thursday to be presented with three possible Spring Training locations within the county.
The Astros, whose contract at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla., expires at the end of 2016, would like to relocate their spring camp to Palm Beach County and have had recent talks with the Nationals about building a two-team facility in the area. Crane said the Blue Jays remain an option, though he hasn't talked to them lately.
The team had hoped to build a facility with the Blue Jays in Palm Beach Gardens, but it hit a roadblock when citizens voiced concern over traffic.
"If we're going to do something, we really have to have a deal signed by the end of this year to make sure we have time to get something built," Crane said. "That's kind of the timetable. I think everybody's leaning in and the last location got a little resistance from the locals. We think it's still a good location, but we'll have to see what they have to present with us."
Having the Astros and one other club share a facility in Palm Beach County would give the area five teams and bring some financial incentives from the state. That being said, Crane said remaining in Kissimmee would be an option if there are some improvements, and he said the team could look to move its spring operations to Arizona as well.
"We knew we had some time when we started [looking for a new site] last year, and I think the next six months, we need to get something signed if we want to make a move," he said. "Certainly, we'd like to stay there and there might be some upgrades there, but we're still looking at Arizona. All the doors are open, and we hope one of them shuts."
Crane was given a tour of Tradition Field on Tuesday by Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.
"This one has been here a while, and they've done a nice job of maintaining it and have some great common areas," Crane said. "It looks like a very nice park."
Astros seeking resolution for TV rights
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- With Opening Day four weeks away, Astros owner Jim Crane said Tuesday his goal was to still have a larger portion of the Houston television market to have access to watching the games this season.
The Astros and Comcast have been battling in the court system for the last few months over television rights fees concerning Comcast SportsNet Houston, the fledgling sports network owned by the Astros, Houston Rockets and Comcast that launched in October 2012.
Only about 40 percent of the Houston TV market has access to Comcast, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy last year. The Astros have sought to dismiss the case so they can retain their broadcast rights or find another carrier.
Crane said Comcast was supposed to make an offer later this week to lend the network more money or put another offer to both the Rockets and Astros.
"We have one position," he said. "Basically, the position has been that we cannot cut a long-term 20-year bad deal. The way this thing is shaping up, the equity we had in the network would be wiped out, and that's a big hit to the team long term."
The Astros contend they've been paid only about half of their rights fees to date.
Meanwhile, Crane said he's still working with Major League Baseball to find a way to stream games online, either through Major League Baseball Advanced Media or Comcast.
"Listen, it's been tough," he said. "When you've got both teams in the city not getting paid for their rights fees and these things continue longer, it needs to be resolved. I think they thought it would go smoother putting it into bankruptcy, but it hasn't. It's gotten worse."