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Lee County to Nats: We really, really love you

Washington NationalsLee County still wants to see the Washington Nationals as a tenant at City of Palms Park, but with little money for upgrades, county and Fort Myers officials are embarking on a new strategy: convince the Nats front office they are loved.

It’s a common strategy: when you don’t have the money to address a team’s needs, you shift to a different strategy. And after an exclusive negotiating period between the two sides expired without anything close to an agreement, Lee County officials are trying to bypass the design folks and directly pitch team management. From Spring Training Online:

Lee County doesn’t have much money after building JetBlue Park and agreeing to upgrades to Hammond Stadium; the tourism-tax well is pretty much tapped dry. So the negotiating strategy is clear: Tell the Nats how much they are wanted. Fort Myers Mayor Randall Henderson will commit to four season-ticket buys and will rent a suite on his own! The county also wants to bypass the Nationals design team and meet directly with team executives to tell them how much the team is wanted.

Whether this will be enough remains to be seen: the Nats do want to leave Space Coast Stadium, but it’s not clear whether the team would be better off as the third option in Fort Myers. (After all, the Nats can’t play the Red Sox every day.) But it doesn’t appear like the Nats front office is too eager to make a quick decision: the team’s Viera lease runs through 2017, but the team could leave early once bonds on the ballpark are paid off — and that’s scheduled for 2014.

RELATED STORIES: If Nats leave Viera, will other teams follow?Lee County commissioner: “50-50” chance Nats will move spring ops to Fort MyersLee County, Nats to meet about spring trainingLee County applying for state ballpark-improvement grantLerner: Fort Myers is tops on our spring-training wish listGammons: Nats present spring-training wish list to Lee CountyIs Nats, Brevard County marriage over?Nats go public with desire for new spring-training facilityNats, Astros eying new Osceola County spring-training complexCould Cards, Marlins leave Treasure Coast?Kasten: Nats definitely looking for new spring home


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