Despite some objections from a member saying the county shouldn’t subsidize baseball, the Lee County Board of Commissioners voted to move ahead with a study of Hammond Stadium and the Lee County Sports Complex in order to retain the Minnesota Twins as a spring tenant.
The Twins’ lease for Hammond Stadium runs through 2020, and in recent years the county has sought to make some improvements to the ballpark, including the expansion of a berm area in right field. The lease also calls for the facility to be maintained at the same level as the five newest Florida spring-training facilities.
The vote merely means the county will look at the complex and how well it works. In addition, the county will be sitting down with the Twins to hone in on potential areas of improvement, including a second elevator in the facility and additional parking. At some point there will be a discussion of new seats (as well as bleachers being replaced by chairback seats), concessions/amenities improvements, new gift shop, expanded clubhouses and the addition of a wrapround concourse. The Twins are a good draw (Red Sox fans in the area help, of course), and we’re guessing the addition of some additional SRO areas to the land-locked ballpark would be a good investment for the county. There are plenty of other suitors for a MLB spring tenant, and while it’s pretty clear the Twins have no intention of leaving their spring home, it would be silly for Lee County not to work to keep the franchise.
The vote was 4-1, with Brian Bigelow dissenting.