It's a black day for downtown Fort Myers as the Boston Red Sox play their final game at City of Palms Park.
The team moves to a new stadium outside Ft. Myers next winter, leaving businesses and local governments worrying about loss of income and lack of a clear future for the stadium, which is less than 20 yrs. old.
Lee Commission Vice Chairman John Manning says it would be ideal to get another major league team to train at city of palms. But he admits: That may be a pipe dream.
He says the city of Fort Myers and the county almost certainly would have to invest more money, to spruce up the stadium, and possibly expand it..then, it might prove more attractive to another ball team for spring training.
In the interim, it will host amateur events that do not pay the bills or generate big dollars for downtown restaurants and bars.
The city of Fort Myers still owes about $17 million in bonds on the stadium, and Lee County pays several hundred thousand a year to maintain the place.
Businesses already are dreading next winter -- without the Red Sox.
Bartender Keelie King of the hide-away says she will make a lot less money next march.
Bonnie Grunberg, owner of the Oasis restaurant, anticipates losing more than 30 percent of her business next March.
Grunberg says, "It's a shame the Sox are leaving, and it will hurt the image of downtown, which had been making progress over the past couple of years."