LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County has re-opened its lines of communication with the Washington Nationals baseball team, in hopes of attracting it to come to Fort Myers for spring training. Last night, Osceola County rejected a new stadium for the Nats.
"Stop the bulldozeers," said Lee commissioner Frank Mann, when he heard the news about the team losing out on the vote in Kissimmee. He was referring to talk that it might be wise to just tear down Cityof Palms park, which has been nearly-empty since the Boston Red Sox left it a couple of years ago.
"We have a chance again, and we have to pursue it. It would make us the only county in the country to have three spring training teams, if the Washington folks were to come here. That would have a very big impact, cpositively, on our local hotels and restaurants, and on our tourism," said Mann.
Others are trying to hold their enthusiasm in check.
"Just let me say, I believe the talks will come down to money, and we do not have any extra," said commissioner Larry Kiker.
The Nationals have said, they believe City of Palms needs at least $36 million in upgrades, and it would like Lee and/or the city of Fort Myers to pay the bill.
The owner of a restaurant near the stadium told WINK News: "Great, go for it, brig them here. I hate to see the place (stadium) empty. What good is that? We need someone to come in and get in there and bring that place back to life. That would certainly help the economy around here," said Michelle Lussier.
The Nationals put out a statement, saying they will look at other counties in Florida and Arizona, in their attempt to find a new home in the spring. They want out of their stadium near Melbourne, because it's a long bus ride to other opponents.