Reps from the Washington Nationals and Lee County will meet today to discuss the team shifting spring-training operations to Fort Myers’ City of Palms Park.
We don’t expect anything big to come from the discussions; the two are just a third into a 90-day exclusive negotiating period. Both sides have made their goals public: the Nats are interested in City of Palms Park if Lee County will spring for ballpark improvements, including new practice fields onsite and a better connection to downtown, while Lee County would love to see the Nats move if funds can be found. The county has applied for $15 million in state funds to improve Hammond Stadium, spring home of the Twins, which (surprise!) would free up the same exact amount of tourism-tax funds for City of Palms Park improvements.
It’s a balancing act: Lee County must keep the Minnesota Twins happy at Hammond Stadium, as the Twins have asked for $60 million in ballpark improvements and have been a pretty loyal tenant, even when the Boston Red Sox received over $75 million in new-ballpark funds forJetBlue Park. Whether the county can afford $60 million to keep the Twins and many tens of millions remains to be seen; there’s probably not enough in the tourism-tax pot for both.
RELATED STORIES: 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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