It's not a done deal, but it's close: Lee County is poised to approve $41.6 million in upgrades to Hammond Stadium and the Lee County Sports Complex, the spring home of the Minnesota Twins.
The deal could keep the Twins in Fort Myers for the next 50 years, conceivably through 2065 (assuming the lease extension begins in 2015). The Lee County Board of Commissioners will vote on the proposal on Nov. 6.
The county will float $38 million in bonds, backed by tourism taxes, $15 million in payments from the state and an increased rent payment from the Twins, who will commit to 30 more years at the ballpark -- a term that can be extended by 20 more years with two 10-year options. (The Twins have also agreed to spend $3.8 million on player dorms at the complex.)
With this deal, Lee County will completely commit tourism taxes to spring training, between this deal and paying off construction loans on JetBlue Park, the spring home of the Boston Red Sox. Lee County has been wooing the Washington Nationals on a move to City of Palms Park, but with no money in an easily accessible pot for ballpark improvements, it's hard to see what sort of carrot can be offered to the Nats -- and with Kissimmee interested in attracting the team, City of Palms Park may be empty for the foreseeable future.
RELATED STORIES: 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
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