City of Palms Park
|Location||2201 Edison Ave
Fort Myers, FL 33901
|Owner||Lee County Sports Authority|
|Field size||Left Field: 330 ft
Center Field: 410 ft
Right Field: 330 ft
|Structural engineer||Bliss & Nyitray, Inc|
Boston Red Sox (AL) (1993–2011)
GCL Red Sox (GCL) (1993-2011)
City of Palms Park is a stadium in Fort Myers, Florida primarily used for baseball, although the City of Fort Myers uses the venue for the occasional concert. It served as the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox from its opening in 1993 to 2011. Former Boston Red Sox left fielder Mike Greenwell is from Fort Myers, and was instrumental in bringing his team to the city for spring training. The stadium was built in 1992 for that purpose and holds 8,000 people. It was also the home of the Red Sox Rookie team, the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, from April through June. The stadium's name is taken from the city's official nickname.
A crew of six is on hand during spring training to groom the Ballfields/Common grounds. Every effort is made to give players access a spring training facility befitting Major League Baseball. Since Lee County Parks and Recreation has taken this facility over from the City of Fort Myers in 2003, the Grounds Crew has won the Ground Crew of the year award for the Red Sox Gulf Coast League in 2005 and 2007.
City of Palms Park is one of four spring training facilities in Fort Myers. The Minnesota Twins train in Hammond Stadium on the Southern end of town. Terry Park Ballfield (also known as the Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium) in East Fort Myers is currently not in use, however, it is the former home of the Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals. In February 2012, the Boston Red Sox moved their spring training operations into the newly constructed jetBlue Park at Fenway South located on County Road 876 (Daniels Parkway) in Fort Myers. It is also located very close to Southwest Florida International Airport.
On March 20, 2012, Lee County Commissioners voted to begin negotiations with the Washington Nationals about moving their spring training operations to the park. The Nationals, who currently train at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida, are looking for a new spring training location because their stadium is far away from other teams' locations, making travel to away games inconvenient. The Nationals could potentially begin training at City of Palms Park as early as the 2014 season if the deal goes through. For now, the stadium is used for travel ball tournaments.
Player Development Complex
The Player Development Complex is where the Red Sox trained and practiced before the exhibition season began at City of Palms. It also housed all the Minor League affiliates and coaches the entire month of March, and it is where players were reassigned as they whittle the roster down during spring training. Once spring training ends, Extended spring training ran from April through the beginning of the Gulf Coast League season. Instructional league took place there from September to October.
This Complex includes: five baseball fields with bullpens and eight batting tunnels. The Clubhouse includes: a spacious meeting room, conference room, kitchen, six offices, a spacious players' locker room with showers, a Trainer/Therapy room, a Hydro-Therapy room, laundry room, an Umpire locker room, Coaches' locker room, and a new, expanded weight training room that was added in 2004-2005.
Move to JetBlue Park
The Red Sox's lease with Fort Myers runs through 2019, however, team ownership had been toying with exercising the early out in their contract that allows them to leave following the 2009 spring season. Chief operating officer Mike Dee met with Sarasota officials on April 25, 2008 to discuss the possibility of the Red Sox moving to Sarasota's Ed Smith Stadium once its current spring inhabitants, the Cincinnati Reds, move to their new spring home in Goodyear, Arizona.
John Yarborough, director of Lee County Parks and Rec, met with Jeff Mudgett, a Fort Myers architect who is volunteering his time to brainstorm ideas on what can be done to keep the Red Sox in Fort Myers. “I’d like to have a project by 2012,’’ Yarborough said after the meeting.
On October 28, 2008, the Lee County commission voted 3-1 to approve an agreement with the Boston Red Sox to build a new spring-training facility for the team in south Lee County. Commissioner Brian Bigelow was the lone dissenting vote. Commissioner Bob Janes was not present for the vote, but stated that he supported it.
Dee was present in the chambers for the vote, and took the agreement back to Boston to meet with team owner John Henry and other team officials. On November 1, 2008, the Red Sox signed an agreement with Lee County that will keep their spring training home in the Fort Myers area for 30 more years.
Wednesday, April 30, 2009, the Lee County commissioners selected the Watermen-Pinnacle site on Daniels Parkway (a little more than a mile east of Interstate 75) as the site for the new facility. The backup choice, if negotiations between county staff and the developer faltered, was the University Highland site just north of Germain Arena in Estero.
On February 25, 2010, the Boston Red Sox officially released the proposed architectural plans for its new training facility in Fort Myers, FL. The new stadium is located just miles from the former site, and offers fans a more "quaint" version of Fenway Park. The outfield is an exact copy of the Fenway field, and contains a Green Monster. The stadium offers a mix of the old Fenway style and a Floridian and modern style. On March 29, 2011, it was announced that the new field would be named JetBlue Park.
- "Lee County requests permission to enter into negotiations with Nationals about new spring home, Washington Times". Retrieved 2012-03-22.
- "County targets 2012 for Red Sox project by Glenn Miller, Fort Myers News-Press". Retrieved 2008-07-14.
- "Lee County commissioners approve Red Sox agreement". Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- "Red Sox to stay in Fort Myers for 30 more springs". Retrieved 2008-11-01.
- "JetBlue puts stamp on Red Sox Complex". Retrieved 2011-03-30.