Commissioners discuss bringing Washington Nationals to Fort Myers
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - The Washington Nationals want what the Red Sox and Twins have. And that's modern amenities and upgrades to City of Palms Park, a more than two decades old structure. But the county says it's strapped for cash.
"If we could just keep a little candle lit, that's what I'm hoping we can do," said Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann.
County staff tell commissioners what it'd take to lure the Nationals to City of Palms.
"The nationals want equal treatment to what they have seen other teams receive for spring training facilities," said Doug Meurer, the assistant county manager, who's been in direct talks with the team.
The price tag is $36.5 million. The DC based team wants a face lift for the area around City of Palms like a new club house and team store. They want the stadium revamped with premium seating and an extra field. Also, a 360 degree boardwalk wrapping around the facility. And an enhanced player development complex with an upgraded weight room and training facilities.
"Based on the way we've treated major league baseball, we do not have the revenue to make those improvements," explained Meurer, after the meeting.
Commissioners agree bringing the Nationals here would be a boon for the economy but the county's tourist tax dollars are tapped. They'd need another stream of revenue to make the project happen.
Commissioner Tammy Hall has been follow the negotiations from the beginning. "I don't see how we can entertain the Nationals and we need to cut them loose at some point in time," she suggested.
No one from the Nationals was at the meeting. From here, discussions continue.