Spring training is unlikely to return to City of Palms Park, according to Lee County officials, who are debating what to do with the former spring home of the Boston Red Sox.City officials had pinned their hopes on attracting the Washington Nationals as a Grapefruit League tenant, offering the team a lease in negotiations earlier this year. But Fort Myers and Lee County really didn’t have much to offer the Nats save a fresh look: with commitments to the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox for ballpark renovations and construction, the Nationals would need to fund most of any desired ballpark improvements on their own. And while teams have been increasingly willing to contribute funding for spring-training facilities, that request was a little too much for the Nats, whose front office is pursuing a new spring complex in Kissimmee.
So that leaves the future of City of Palms Park problematic, to say the least. There are issues with the facility that can be addressed to an extent, but others that just can’t be fixed, including the separation between the ballpark and the training facility, the relatively small size of the ballpark and the limited parking in the area.
Any expectation to bring in another major league team, no longer holds any promise, at least according to the Lee County director of parks and recreation.
Dave Harner said, “I would not hold out hope that a national league team is going to come at this point.”…
But nothing is certain as the county commission will soon decide if it wants to spend 1.3 million dollars a year on maintenance and keeping the facility open.
There have been other proposals for the City of Palms Park site, but talks have always stalled because city and county officials have held out hope of bringing back spring training. In these days of decreasing city and county budgets, it may be tempting to call it quits on spring training and find a suitable resuse for the ballpark site.