Lee County Approves Renovations For Twins' Spring Training Facility
The Lee County (Fla.) Commission yesterday approved a stadium deal for the Twins' Spring Training facility, and by shifting $5.4M in "stadium expenses to the general fund -- which primarily collects revenue from property taxes -- the county will have enough to repay the $91 million debt for stadium improvements over 30 years," according to Thomas Himes of the Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS. The Twins' lease agreement "doesn’t expire for eight more years, but when the county borrowed more than $141 million for a new stadium for the Red Sox in 2010, the Twins sought a more profitable deal." A new housing facility for ballplayers "makes up $7.2 million of the $42.5 million in upfront construction costs commissioners approved." The county will "pay for a theater, kitchen, dining hall, laundry room, classrooms and other recreational facilities for young players the team puts up in nearby hotel rooms for about five months of the year." The Twins will "pick up $3.9 million to build 55 sleeping rooms in the $11 million housing complex." The contract states that they also will "increase their rent by an average of $239,000 a year -- up from $300,000." Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann said that the expenses "are justified, because when the Twins or its minor league team isn’t using the venue, the county hosts other events" (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 11/7). In Minneapolis, Joe Christensen noted Hammond Stadium’s seating capacity "will increase from 8,000 to 9,300, with wider concourses, renovated concession stands and restrooms, a 360-degree walkway for fans around the field, and more shaded areas." The outfield wall will "be re-designed with the same dimensions the Twins have at Target Field." The facility also will get "an additional practice field, a new weight room on the major league side of the complex and add a hydrotherapy area" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 11/6).