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Lee County to pitch Nats again on City of Palms Park

Washington NationalsThough there are no funds for renovations, Lee County will once again pitch the Washington Nationals on a move to City of Palms Park after Osceola County rejected a new Kissimmee spring-training complex.

There’s nothing new in the Lee County/Fort Myers approach to luring the Nationals; with tourism funds devoted to the new Boston Red Sox spring facility and upcoming renovations to Hammond Stadium, there are simply no funds for any renovations to the former spring home of the Boston Red Sox — a fact elected officials say they’ll make clear to the Nats. Whether this will fly remains to be seen: the Nats had identified some $36.6 million in upgrades in past negotiations, and the reasons why the Red Sox moved — small footprint, separate training facilities, limited expansion possibilities — are still there now. Plus, there’s doubt whether Fort Myers can support three teams during spring training.

One possible option: open the area outside the ballpark to development, with the development of a TIF district to fund both the development and ballpark upgrades. The city has been discussing this possibility with an outside construction firm. From the News-Press:

County Manager Roger Desjarlais stressed that Lee County can’t afford the $36.6 million in upgrades to City of Palms Park the Nationals wanted when talks stalled earlier this year.

But after a phone conversation with team representatives earlier this afternoon, he said, the team wants to make another pitch.

“Everybody is interested in reopening the conversation, about moving the team moving to Fort Myers, but to talk about money and how much or where it’s coming from is premature,” Desjarlais said.

There are other options for the Nats, who have informed Brevard County they intend on moving spring training away from Space Coast Stadium. The New York Mets have been discussing adding a second team to the Port St. Lucie spring training complex, and the Houston Astros still have not formally closed a deal to bring a second team to a proposed Palm Beach Gardens complex, though numerous sources in baseball have pegged the Toronto Blue Jays as being involved in the project.

RELATED STORIES: Osceola County rejects new Washington Nationals spring-training complex; Osceola County delays vote on new Nats spring facility; Tourism Board approves new Nats spring-training facility; New spring complex pitched for Osceola County; Nats petition to end Viera spring lease; Osceola County solicits bids for new spring complex; End of the line for Space Coast Stadium?; Nats, Osceola County talking new spring-training facility; Nationals in talks for new spring-training site; will leave Viera; Early setback in attempt to keep Nationals in Brevard County; Prepping for spring training; Lee County commissioner: Nats unlikely to move to Fort Myers; Kissimmee pitching two-team complex for spring training; Nats, Lee County to keep continue discussions on spring training; Nats: We’re still interested in Fort Myers — if spring complex is upgradedPro baseball an endangered species in Viera?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 grantTwins 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 training; Lee 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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