This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.
By Jose Diaz
The City of Fort Myers wants Lee County to tear down City of Palms Park on Edison Avenue, the home field for the FSW baseball and softball teams.
The Lee County Commission voted unanimously to approve negotiations with the city at a board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
FSW President Jeffery Allbritten did not comment but Greg Turchetta, director of media and marketing at FSW, spoke on his behalf.
“FSW continues to monitor the discussions between the City of Fort Myers and Lee County regarding the future of City of Palms Park,” said Turchetta. “We will make any necessary adjustments as to where our baseball and softball teams play as more information becomes available.”
The Compass got wind of the news right before press time and held off this issue until more information was available.
At the moment, it is unclear what FSW’s move will be on the matter. FSW has a lease for the ballpark that runs through 2025, with an option to extend it for five more years, according to press reports.
“We have basically heard any news about the future of the stadium the same way and the same time as the public has,” said Roy Allen, FSW sports information director, on Monday. “At this point, we have not been told that we need to prepare to vacate the stadium at any time by any officials.”
The Park opened in 1993 as the Boston Red Sox spring training facility until the team moved to JetBlue Park in south Fort Myers in 2012.
The city of Fort Myers issued $51.5 million in bonds to pay for City of Palms Park, which are still being paid off.
In 2003, the city of Fort Myers turned the stadium over to Lee county because of the expensive upkeep. Now, Fort Myers wants the field back, which can happen if it hasn’t been used for Major League Baseball for two years, according to contractual agreements.
Fort Myers wants ownership of the land for a Midtown renovation project, spanning from MLK Drive to Edison Avenue.
“We support whatever decision the commission has and the city, we appreciate some of the preliminary conversations about the timelines to give us a season, to get us sorted out,” Robert Jones, vice president of economic development and external affairs at FSW said at the meeting. “Thank you on behalf of the 22,000 students, and a nationally ranked baseball and softball team that, I think, has been contributed by the venue.”