By Eric Schmidt

The Minnesota Twins can look forward to major improvements to their Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, Florida. The Twins signed a conditional 30-year lease with Lee County, Florida to remain at the current Hammond Stadium with the conditions that the county was going to make significant upgrades. Lee County was the only county in the State of Florida to apply for a $15 million dollar grant which was available in order to help cities retain their current spring training team in place.

The Naples Daily News reports that Lee County has received the grant and now will have to match the grant with an additional $15 million dollars. Lee county commissioners have told local media that they plan to raise the additional $15 million through the use of “bed taxes”, taxes which are levied on local hotel rooms.

Lee County is home to two spring training teams, the Boston Red Sox as well as the Twins open their seasons in the region. Lee County recently provided a new $80 million dollar facility, Jet Blue Park for the Boston Red Sox, so it was only natural that the Twins would request upgrades to their facility as well. The Red Sox vacated the confines of City of Palms Park, located in downtown Fort Myers when they moved into the new Jet Blue Park. The City of Fort Myers is currently trying to woo the Washington Nationals into the vacant City of Palms Park.

As soon as it was learned that Lee County secured the funds, the Minnesota Twins submitted a “wish list” of improvements which far surpass the $30 million dollars. The Twins have a laundry list of items which total $45.6 million dollars.

Beyond stadium improvements, which will include adding 1,000 additional seats to the facility, one of the largest requests by the Twins is the desire for the county to build dorms to house players. Minnesota not only hosts spring training in February and March but the the team houses players in the Gulf Coast league from March through August in local hotels.The cost of building the requested dorms comes in at $7.2 million.

The Twins are also asking for the naming rights to the upgraded stadium as well. Lee County agave naming rights to the Boston Red Sox and in exchange, receives $150,000 dollars a year for maintenance of the facility throughout the terms of the agreement.



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