The Washington Nationals reportedly have given Lee County officials a wish list for a renovation of City of Palms Park and could move spring operations there in 2014, according to Peter Gammons.
Here’s Gammons’ tweet: “Nats gave Lee County their plans to reconstruct Boston’s former downtown Fort Myers park, likely there in 2014 if county can afford it.”
That would mean talks between the Nationals and Lee County Commissioners are considerably more advanced than portrayed by commissioners just a month ago. It’s no secret the Nats ownership is looking for a new spring-training home: Indeed, in the last year team officials have announced their dissatisfaction with Space Coast Stadium’s location and talked with Osceola County about a new shared complex just outside the Disney World boundaries. The Nats’ lease at Space Coast Stadium and the Carl Barger training complex doesn’t expire until 2017, but the team can move early if it pays off construction loans — currently valued at $765,000 a year and scheduled to be paid off in 2013.
When the Boston Red Sox decided to pursue a new spring-training home, their main issue wasn’t with the condition of City of Palms Park: the ballpark itself was in pretty good shape, even though the physical plant was a little cramped. Instead, the issue was having a split camp (the training fields are a mile or so to the east) and the lack of any development opportunities around the ballpark, which is totally surrounded by residential. We’re not entirely sure what the Nats would demand to City of Palms Park to make it more attractive save surface stuff (like removing every hint of the Red Sox from the place), except perhaps some more upscale group areas and expanded concessions.
Photo: City of Palms Park during Boston Red Sox spring training in 2010.
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