FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pump the breaks. Fort Myers city leaders are saying slow down when it comes to the possibility of a new stadium. They’re seeing a process that usually takes several months roll out in just a few weeks.
Councilman Fred Burson introduced the idea of an amateur sports facility to council on November 16th. It would replace City of Palms Park, where the Red Sox had spring training, which is scheduled to get demolished later this year.
Just three weeks later City Manager Saeed Kazemi had already recommended a contractor for the project. A process that could take six months. Burson says he thinks it’s all because the city manager doesn’t want a stadium there at all.
Burson wants the facility because he says it’ll bring more revenue to downtown Fort Myers.
“I’m wanting to make it something that will support the businesses, and the hotel industry in Fort Myers, and Lee County,” he said.
He added that’ll bring more tourists to the fairly new Luminary Hotel downtown.
On December 7th, Kazemi recommended council approve a proposal from the contractor Hellmuth, Abata and Kassabaum, inc. (HOK). Burson says the process to send out a public ad and requests for proposals to contractors could take six months, at least. He says Kazemi is overstepping
“In many times I think he exceeds the authority given to him under the charter,” said Burson.
Another hesitation for some - the cost, which Burson says ultimately could have a price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“I’m not talking about the city spending money to do it. I’m talking about coming up with a plan - a complete plan, and selling it to a development company,” he said.
Councilman Johnny Streets said he supports the stadium, but the timing is off.
“Before we just rush into something, I think we need to take care of some of these other items,” he said.
Streets says the stadium should take a backseat to the pandemic and the city’s housing crisis for now. The city manager has not responded to Fox 4’s requests for comment on these claims as of Monday night.