|By Bill DiPaolo, The Palm Beach Post,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 13, 2013--JUPITER -- A 128-room hotel that is walking distance from Roger Dean Stadium should bring more fans to games and customers to Abacoa businesses, say town officials.
"A hotel makes Abacoa the ideal tourist getaway. They can come for spring training games, bring their golf clubs and play at the Abacoa Golf Club, and go to Abacoa restaurants -- all in the same area," said Vice-Mayor Todd Wodraska.
The four-story Courtyard by Marriott is being built on the northwest corner of University Boulevard and Main Street, next to GS4 Secure Solutions. Opening is expected early next year.
The plan calls for hotel guests to park in the nearby 1,000-space public parking garage.
Parking is a premium in Abacoa, especially following the town's approval last week of 300 rental apartments to be built on vacant property now used for parking for baseball fans who pay about $6 for a space. The parking revenue is shared by the St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins, who are now playing their spring training games at the 7,000-seat stadium.
The apartments will displace about 620 parking spots fans now use. Those spots will be made up by spaces in a 500-vehicle lot on the southwest corner of the FAU campus on Parkside Drive. Fans can also park for free in the four-level parking garage. Parking also will be available on the vacant lot formerly occupied by the 16-screen Crown Movie Theatre demolished in 2010.
"There will be enough parking for everyone," said Beth Kelso, executive director of Abacoa Property Owners Assembly Inc.
Several fans weren't so sure.
Keith and Dora Powell, attending a game last week between the Marlins and Cardinals, visit every March. They rent a nearby condominium for about three weeks. The Medona, Ill., couple expect to spend about $6,000 during their stay in north county. County officials estimate spring training pumped about $35 million into the local economy last year.
"We like this stadium. It's small and easy to get to. But if it all gets too crowded and tough to get to, we have other places to go," said Keith Powell, adjusting his red Cardinals hat.
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