Though many in Fort Myers would like to see another MLB team train at City of Palms Park, that’s not happening any time soon, and Lee County is struggling to find a future use for the ballpark — with an outdoor pool again at the top of the list.
It’s no secret Fort Myers and Lee County officials have met in the past year with pretty much every team in the Grapefruit League and a few in the Cactus League to no avail: there’s simply no interest in a facility with some logistical and financial issues. So the city has turned its attention to a future City of Palms Park that doesn’t involve baseball.
This idea’s been under consideration for some time now: converting the ballpark to a swimming facility, capable of holding larger national meets as well as major college events. In a state where swimming is a major college sport, the idea isn’t all that outlandish.
But the numbers have been challenging: converting an open-air ballpark to a covered 12,000-seat natatorium just doesn’t make economic sense. Lee County already passed once on the deal because of a lack of detailed financial informaton and could do so again upon reconsideration. The largest meets in the country don’t even hit the 3,000 mark when it comes to attendance, so it’s a little pie in the sky to assume 10,000 will show up for the national finals. So the plan has been scaled down, with the plan now a open-air swimming facility requiring no funds from the county. The risk to Lee County has been dminished, but the question remains: is the best use for an adequate ballpark a conversion to a swimming facility, or should the county work to find some sort of baseball solution — like using the ballpark as a tournament destination?
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