With a proposed redevelopment of the City of Palms Park area almost dead, Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson says there is little chance a $36.6 million renovation plan will succeed, giving the city no shot to land the Washington Nationals for spring training.
We have more of the details at our sister site, Spring Training Online, but the basic outline is simple: development partner Rockford Development (in conjunction with a local partner, Paul Roberts) crunched the numbers and not only walked away from putting private funding into a development plan, but turned things around and asked for assistance from Fort Myers and/or Lee County. Now, for these two government entities, the whole point of bringing in a private developer was to attract private funding for a makeover of the ballpark and the surrounding area with retail and restaurants.
And with no improvements to the ballpark and the area, there’s little chance of attracting the Washington Nationals, who have made no secret about a desire to leave Space Coast Stadium and Brevard County for a more central location. Though Fort Myers is in the southern part of the Gulf Coast, it is central when it comes to spring training, with the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays training in the greater Fort Myers/Port Charlotte area. Given that the Nats were pursuing a new Kissimmee spring complex while Fort Myers was working on this renovation plan, we get the sense the Nats weren’t too eager — or maybe too realistic — to see a City of Palms Park renovation plan succeed.
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