Play Ball! Spring Training is Win-Win for Fans and Finances
The Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox bring an estimated $47 Million including $11 Million in Food & Beverage Sales to Southwest Florida
When the team trucks start rolling out of Target Field in Minneapolis and Fenway Park in Boston, in early February, the City of Fort Myers and Lee County already has the red carpet in place. The welcome sights and sounds of Spring Training Baseball are filling Hammond Stadium, the Winter Home of the Minnesota Twins and City of Palms Park in Downtown Fort Myers, the Winter Home of the Boston Red Sox. Just up I-75 at the Charlotte Sports Park, the Tampa Bay Rays helps an economy that still stings from Hurricane Charlie in 2005. The Rays moved to Port Charlotte in 2009 and made an immediate impact on the area.
Conservative figures say that the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox contribute $47 Million Dollars to the local Southwest Florida economy specifically Fort Myers. The most recent study was done in 2009 by Florida Gulf Coast University and they estimated over $11 million is spent on food and beverages alone. Hammond Stadium features the most varieties of domestic and craft beers and is also the year round home of the Fort Myers Miracle Class ‘A’ team.
Southwest Florida was believed to be in the running for a fourth team when Naples was courting the Chicago Cubs last season. The Cubs, a perennial losing franchise decided to stay where there are and picked the desert of Arizona for their fans.
This is a landmark year for both teams as the Twins, the defending AL Central Champions, celebrate 20 years in Hammond Stadium and also have received plenty of media attention with the addition of Japanese Superstar Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Nishioka was the Most Valuable Player in Japan and will play second base for the Twins.The Twins are led by catcher Joe Mauer and are expecting Justin Morneau to return from injury along with reliever Joe Nathan. The team resigned ace Carl Pavano and the emergence of Brad Duensing along with Francisco Liarano give the Twins new options in the rotation. and Matt Capps will spell Nathan in the bullpen
The Boston Red Sox are in the last year at City of Palms Park and the new Spring Training facility will hold 11,000 fans beginning in 2012. The sate of the art facility will have a replica of the famed Fenway ‘Green Monster’ and will be located in South Fort Myers closer to I-75 the they current location. The Red Sox were very active in the off-season and hope to be celebrating the new stadium as World Champs. They went deep pockets and signed free agents Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford and along with crowd favorites Kevin Youkalis, Jacoby Elsworth, Dustin Pedroia and veteran David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz the lineup is solid. Pitchers Josh Beckett, ‘Dice-k Matsuzaka, John Lackey and Jon Lester get bullpen help this year with the signing of Bobby Jenks to compliment Jonathon Papelbon.
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