Trading prison for pitchers: Group proposes abandoned Belle Glade prison for Braves spring training

Trading prison for pitchers: Group proposes abandoned Belle Glade prison for Braves spring training

There's a lot of talk and plenty of controversy about a plan to bring the Atlanta Braves back to Palm Beach county.  That plan includes a possible spring training facility at John Prince Park in the Lake Worth area.

But a group of businessmen have been watching the back and forth and have an idea of their own. They want to hand over most of their property for free to the Braves for a spring training facility.  It's where the abandoned Glades Correctional Institution sits. They know it's a long shot.

"In Belle Glade, we are used to being long shots," said Tom Altman, a partner of BGI Group, the owners of the property. "From the farmers that start every year trying to dodge freezes and droughts to the kids that grow up poor dreaming about playing in the NFL, we know about long shots here."

The group floated the idea, to donate a 100 acres for a Braves' stadium, at a town hall meeting to their local county commissioner, who passed it along to the county administrator.  It's still in the early stages with no formal proposal.  They also haven't reached out the the Altanta Braves yet.

The site was purchased for $1.2 million and intended for industrial use, but they're ready to offer it up for free, if the Braves are interested. Businessman and former Belle Glade Mayor Tom Altman pointed to what Dodger town did for Vero Beach.

"When you think about what happened a couple years ago when they closed the prison down. It really devastated our community," said Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson. "It would be an economic engine that we need and have been praying for for some time."

Nearby at Hungry Howies Pizza, the owner said it would help serve up a lot of business.

"I think it would help all of us," said Nasser Halum, the owner. "Belle Glade definitely needs it given that its below poverty line."

But an important point is that many question how realistic this is given the rural nature and location of Belle Glade.  For all the early nay-sayers, those in favor say, "build it and they will come."

"Well this would be a miracle for our community," said Mayor Wilson. "We are hoping this is just not a dream."

"Stranger things have happened," said Altman.

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