According to the Washington Post, the Nationals are interested in leaving their spring training home in Viera, Fla., to move into the City of Palms Park — the Red Sox’ old spring training facility.
But Lee County officials are mired in a financial bind, having committed $80 million to fund the Red Sox’ new facility for JetBlue Park and $42.5 million to the Twins to help them upgrade Hammond Stadium.
The Nationals, however, are seeking financial support from the city to renovate City of Palms Park’s rehab facilities, training areas, practice fields, suites, seats and scoreboard. Fort Myers mayor Randy Henderson insists it’s a tough task.
“We have shown the Nats as much love as we can,” Henderson said. “The county and the city have very limited financial resources at this time to bring the stadium to the state the Nats need and require commensurate with the other professional baseball teams. We have articulated that to them from the get-go.”
The report indicates that Lee County is contemplating charging the Nationals a $1 annual rent for the facility until the county’s tourist tax fund is replenished. It would reportedly save the club $5 million over 10 years.
“Now that we’re in a position that the Sox and Twins deals are done, we can get into some pencil-sharpening,” commissioner Frank Mann said. “The door is wide open to discuss to any pieces of a potential deal.”
The reigning National League East champs want to change venues because of their lack of proximity to opposing teams’ facilities for Grapefruit League games. Their shortest Grapefruit League bus ride is an hour and 15 minutes.
If the Nationals migrate to Fort Myers, they’ll be minutes away from the Red Sox and Twins. They will also be less than an hour away from the Pirates and Rays’ spring training complexes as well.
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