Nationals Weigh Spring Training Options, With Eye Toward Ft. Myers' City Of Palms Park
The Nationals are "interested in City of Palms Park" in Ft. Myers, Fla., as a site for the club's Spring Training complex, according to James Wagner of the WASHINGTON POST. But Lee County, after committing more than $80M for the Red Sox' JetBlue Park and approving $42.5M in upgrades to the Twins’ Hammond Stadium, is "limited in what it can offer the Nationals." Despite the "financial constraints, Lee County officials remain optimistic they can still entice the Nationals, who are interested in upgrades to City of Palms Park," which served as the Red Sox' Spring Training facility from '93-11. Interim County Manager Doug Meurer said that he "hopes to hold a meeting soon, possibly in January, with county commissioners and other local officials to discuss what the county can do to lure the Nationals," who currently play at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla. Meurer added that the "needed improvements included upgrades to the rehab facilities, larger training areas, additional practice fields, stadium seat replacement, suite renovations and upgrades to the stadium’s electronic scoreboards." Ft. Myers Mayor Randy Henderson said that he "has seen the Nationals’ rendering for an upgraded stadium" that would cost between $40-50M. One option "being considered by Lee County officials is to charge the Nationals $1 annual rent for the City of Palms Park facility until the county’s tourist tax fund replenishes enough to make major renovations." Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann said that that "would save the Nationals about $5 million in rent over 10 years" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/29).