Fans dole out economy boost during spring training

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Fans visiting Fort Myers for baseball spring training generate $26 million in six weeks, according to the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce.

Just a week away from the first spring season game between the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins, a group of friends said they have been waiting for months to visit Fort Myers and Hammond Stadium.

“We take about four months in planning this trip. We come down for about 10 days,” said Minnesota Twins fan Randell Farley.

Their trip includes money for hotel stays, gas and memorabilia. They said they collect jerseys, cards and aim to get athletes’ signatures and pictures taken. Most of their activities cost money

“We usually spend between two to three thousand dollars for 10 days,” Farley said. “But we don’t do it for the value. We do it for the fun.”

Farley’s willingness to spend money in Southwest Florida mirrors the economical impact spring training has in a short amount of time.

“I spend more money than anything I have is probably worth but it’s the fun of the chase and just getting the autograph,” he said.

On Monday, the Twins’ first day of spring training, the fans said they got more than 75 autographs .

“The Twins are really a fan-friendly camp and we really enjoy coming out here and it’s the sunshine. We’re enjoying everything about it,” Farley said.

The Minnesota Twins’s full squad practice begins Friday.