Lee County and the Washington Nationals will continue to discuss a move of the team to City of Palms Park for spring training, as officials look at whether the county can afford requested upgrades.
The Nats have already presented a wish list of changes they’d like to see at City of Palms Park, and many of the changes were initially sought by the ballpark’s former tenant, the Boston Red Sox, before the decision was made to build a new complex on the outskirts of Fort Myers. The Nats want to see upgraded training facilities, another practice field at the ballpark (the team would also use training fields about a mile to the east), and more.
Whether there is enough money for Lee County to woo the Nats is another issue. The county already committed $80 million in tourism taxes toward JetBlue Park and another $15 million toward a renovation of Hammond Stadium and the Lee County Sports Complex, with the final deal still needed to be worked out with the Minnesota Twins. All expected revenues from tourism taxes are now committed to various projects, so some other sort of financing method would need to be worked out.
The two sides are committed talking move for the next 30 days. Really, the issues are very clear: what upgrades are dealbreakers for the Nats, and whether county officials can come up with the money to pay for them.
The Nats have a contract to train at Space Coast Stadium through 2017, but that lease can be broken once ballpark debt is paid off — which is scheduled to happen in 2013.
RELATED STORIES: Nats: We’re still interested in Fort Myers — if spring complex is upgraded; Pro baseball an endangered species in Viera?; Twins, Lee County negotiating over player dorms, naming rights at spring-training complex; Twins sign 30-year spring-training lease extension; Lee County: Twins spring-training improvements hinge on state grant; Twins present spring-training wish list to Lee County; Lee County to Nats: We really, really love you; If Nats leave Viera, will other teams follow?; Lee County commissioner: “50-50″ chance Nats will move spring ops to Fort Myers; Lee County, Nats to meet about spring training; Lee County applying for state ballpark-improvement grant; Lerner: Fort Myers is tops on our spring-training wish list; Gammons: Nats present spring-training wish list to Lee County; Is Nats, Brevard County marriage over?; Nats go public with desire for new spring-training facility; Nats, Astros eying new Osceola County spring-training complex; Could Cards, Marlins leave Treasure Coast?; Kasten: Nats definitely looking for new spring home
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a subscriber to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.