Lee Co. Commissioner says spring training can help boost local economy

Red Sox Spring Baseball
Posted at 6:37 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 22:32:47-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox rolling back into town is a big deal for fans, and for area businesses.

People who traveled to Lee County to cheer on their favorite baseball team spent nearly 69 million dollars while visiting.

That’s according to county data from 2018.

That research shows baseball fans visiting the area spent $9 million on shopping, $14 million on food and beverages, and $18 million on accommodations.

But, the pandemic has led to a decrease in travel.

This week, the Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins both announced limited capacity seating for Spring Training 2021 in Fort Myers.

Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman says while there will be a difference in bottom line, he still welcomes the economic boost that he says spring training will still bring during a pandemic.

“I think we can expect it be not as big of a financial impact, but as something we can be very grateful after a year of COVID restrictions”, Hamman says.

The Lee County District 4 commissioner says fewer people might be able to attend the games, but he anticipates people will still travel to attend - further helping area businesses.

“It’s outside money coming into our economy that will help support our businesses during this time of year.”

Businesses like Lansdowne Street in Bonita Springs - a popular spot for Red Sox fans.

Aason Schimmel’s the general manager of the New England themed pub.

He tells me they’ve managed to maintain their nearly 40 employees through the pandemic, and he credits patrons for that.

“We thank everyone for their support. We couldn’t do it without them,” Schimmel says.

He says they’ve made changes to the bar to help keep people safe.

“We installed some things to clean the air, we keep our windows open…we’re always sanitizing so I mean we do the best we can.”

Commissioner Hamman says as businesss welcome visitors back for spring training, it’s everyone’s safety that comes first.

“We know it’s not as busy as a season as it would be…but we do want to make sure that we have a very safe, welcoming environment for people who are ready to travel.”