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Funding for Twins spring-training renovations approved

Renovated Minnesota Twins spring-training complex

After months of negotiations, Lee County agreed to a $42.5-million renovation of the Minnesota Twins’ spring-training complex that calls for new fan amenities at Hammond Stadium and upgraded training facilities for players.

The complex hasn’t seen major changes since 1991, when the Twins moved in after spending most of the team’s history training in Orlando.

The Lee County Board of Commissioners approved $42.5 million in spending today on a 3-1 vote. The county will float $38 million in bonds, backed by tourism taxes, $15 million in payments from the state and an increased rent payment from the Twins, who will commit to 30 more years at the ballpark — a term that can be extended by 20 more years with two 10-year options. (The Twins have also agreed to spend $3.8 million on player dorms at the complex.) The team plans to use the dorms for year-round player development.

The ballpark will see expanded seating — from 8,000 to 9,300 — as well as upgraded concessions and a larger berm area. The work should be done by 2015.

The decision to spend tourism money on the Twins (matching what the county spent on a new spring facility for the Boston Red Sox) was controversial: it basically ties up all tourism-tax proceeds on spring training and leaves nothing to spend on potential upgrades to City of Palms Park for the Washington Nationals. That may be for the best: the Nats are reportedly one of two teams negotiating for a new complex in Kissimmee.

Image courtesy of Lee County.

RELATED STORIES: Twins, Lee County negotiating over player dorms, naming rights at spring-training complexTwins sign 30-year spring-training lease extensionLee County: Twins spring-training improvements hinge on state grant;Twins present spring-training wish list to Lee County; Lee County to Nats: We really, really love youIf 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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