Lee County will move to the next stage of negotiations with the National Swimming Corp. to covert City of Palms Park, the former spring-training home of the Boston Red Sox, to a natatorium after county commissioners realized pro baseball was not in the facility’s future.
The proposal has the company paying $18.2 million to convert the ballpark to the world’s largest outdoor swimming facility in a three-part project that will add five swimming pools to the former playing field. The county would pay nothing toward the project. In addition, National Swimming would be asked to put up bonds to cover the costs of converting the facility back to baseball should a MLB team come a-calling.
Commissioners voted today to move forward with negotiations, which will include proof that National Swimming has the financial backing to make the project work.
The facility is available now that the Boston Red Sox will be training at a new suburban facility, beginning with Spring Training 2012. Lee County and Fort Myers officials aggressively marketed the ballpark to MLB teams last spring in an attempt to find a replacement for the Red Sox, but no team took the bait.
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