No more major league baseball at City of Palms?
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS, Fla.- The troubled City of Palms baseball stadium could soon be striking out.
As the county takes a tough look at balancing its budget... the stadium could be the first major cut in service.
But what about a major league team coming here to save the day?
The City of Palms stadium sat empty for all but 73 days this past year.
Any expectation to bring in another major league team, no longer holds any promise, at least according to the lee county director of parks and recreation.
Dave Harner said "I would not hold out hope that a national league team is going to come at this point."
The Lee County Sports Authority is now putting its focus on attracting more college and highschool events.
But nothing is certain as the county commission will soon decide if it wants to spend 1.3 million dollars a year on maintenance and keeping the facility open.
Director Jeff Mielke said when asked if there is any possibility that the county will walk away from this facility?
"I think there is that possibility... absolutely."
Thats not good news for the city of Fort Myers.
Ever since the Red Sox left for the new Jet Blue Park, downtown merchants took a hit.
Director of downtown redevelopment, Don Paight said "the business noticed a drop when the spring training moved out."
In 1993, the city of Fort Myers took out a 51 million dollar loan to build city of palms park.
But it handed over control to the county in 2003 because it couldn't afford to maintain it ... yet the city still has to pay the mortgage!
But with the way the contract is laid out, the county has the ultimate control and is considering every option beyond amateur baseball.
Dave Harner said " we could look at closing the facility completely, and we can also look at totally leveling the site and land banking the land for future use."
If the county wants to do anything with City of Palms park besides programming it for baseball, the city has the option to take back the stadium.
But the city would have to reimburse the county for the years spent on maintenance and they would have to pay property tax too.