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Lee County is still trying to lure the Nats to Fort Myers … somehow

Jan 31, 2013, 9:59 AM EDT

City of Palms Park

The latest story is out in Lee County, Florida’s efforts to lure the Nationals to City of Palms Park, the former spring training home of the Red Sox.  Except … they can’t quite figure out how to do it because the tax they’d normally use to do the renovations required for the park has been tapped out on other projects. Specifically, upgrades to the Twins’ complex and the construction of the Red Sox’ new JetBlue Park.

This passage from the article grinds my gears:

Other options for the ballpark include converting it into a swimming or soccer facility. The ideal scenario would be keeping it a baseball facility and convincing the Nationals, one of four teams still training on Florida’s east coast, to move there, officials said.

No one ever explains why that’s an ideal scenario. I’m not sure how public money to lure the Nationals is a better use than public money for public recreation facilities. No one ever really tries to explain that kind of thing in these situations.

(thanks to Justin E. for the heads up)

  1. flosox - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    If i’m not mistaken, that’s Tek at the plate…He’ll be back eventually.

  2. natslady - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Y’know, I thought it was a lock the Nats were moving, but Brevard County is upping their bid. The primary reason for the Nats to move is the “long bus rides” players have to take to play other teams in Spring Training Games–rides most veterans wouldn’t take if they lasted 10 minutes!

    • flosox - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:27 AM

      I’ve had season tix to Sox spring training for over a decade now; every year they add a Twinkies game in place of some other team. I guess they only want to commute down the street…

      Whatever though, still the best time of year!

  3. pmcenroe - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Having grown up there I think I can explain why it would ideal to keep it a baseball stadium rather than recreation complex. Number one would have to be because although its pretty close to downtown Ft. Myers (which was in the process of being gentrified when I was there for the holidays) it is still in a not great part of town. They have built a skate park and an indoor ice rink (which is now used more for indoor soccer and basketball than ice skating) directly next to the stadium, both were popular in the begining but have since been in decline. Spring Training does bring a lot of revenue to the City of Ft. Myers and the ballpark is already built, the problem is there is nowhere to put a minor league complex (except down the road like it currently is in an even worse part of town) like all the newer ST facilties have.

  4. Matt Aromando - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    So one city has 3 minor league sized baseball stadiums. Are these used for anything outside of Spring Training? Are they just big unused lots for most of the year? It seems crazy that a vacation destination like Fort Myers would use up so much space on something that is only used a few months out of the year.

    • pmcenroe - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      The Twins High-A( Miracle) and Gulfcoast Rookie league teams play that their complex, plus they have some softball tournaments and other events there during the year. Red Sox just have their Gulfcoast league team play at their complex but I believe the rest of the time it remains empty, but its new so I’m sure they will host some other things there throughout the year but its so close to Twins complex that really it’ll just be a change of venue for most things.

      City of Palms Park currently sits completely empty

    • pmcenroe - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Also techically Ft. Myers has 4 minor league stadiums. Terry Park was used for ST for the A’s Pirates and Royal from 1925-1988 (until the Twins came and the County built the new complex). It was renovated some after Hurricane Charely in ’04, and is currently used for amateur games and HS scouting tournaments and such.

  5. bolweevils2 - Jan 31, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    This would make life hard for the other 3 teams remaining on the east coast (Cards, Mets, Marlins) They can;t just play each other every day, unless one of them is a split squad.

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