A renovation of Hammond Stadium and the Lee County Sports Complex, spring home of the Minnesota Twins, may or may not feature player dorms and naming rights, as the two sides negotiate a new lease covering some $30 million in improvements.
It's an unusual situation. In order to qualify for $15 million in state funds from a pot of money designated for keeping spring-training teams in Florida, Lee County had to agree on a lease extension with the team. But the terms of the extension weren't finalized, and it doesn't need to be signed until February 2014.
Lee County says it has only $30 million to spend on improvements. The Twins have requested more than that, somewhat to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox -- whose JetBlue Park was funded by Lee County as well -- and also to keep pace with other spring-training and extended training facilities in MLB. That means the Twins are asking for ballpark improvements like more seating and a wraparound concourse, as well as complex improvements like better training facilities and a player dorm. And the team is asking for one other thing the Red Sox received: the ability to sell naming rights.
The request for player dorms is meeting with resistance from one Lee County commissioner, who wants to see the team continue paying to put up players in local hotels. Summer, of course, is the slow season for most hotels in the area, and having the Twins pay to put up players does make a financial impact.
"I adamantly oppose dorms on the site," Commissioner Ray Judah told the Naples News, "for the simple reason that the tourist industry funds the upgrades to the complex and we in no way want to undercut the tourism industry to accommodate players. In my opinion, this is a sticking point in the negotiation with the Twins.
"It's a deal killer."
Rhetoric aside, this is more a matter of hashing out the details than a standstill in talks: the Twins aren't moving, and the two sides are actually fairly close on exactly what will be part of the project. Reaching the $30 million mark shouldn't be hard for either side.
RELATED STORIES: Twins sign 30-year spring-training lease extension; Lee County: Twins spring-training improvements hinge on state grant;Twins present spring-training wish list to Lee County; Lee County commissioner: "50-50" chance Nats will move spring ops to Fort Myers; Lee County, Nats to meet about spring training; Lee County applying for state ballpark-improvement grant; Lerner: Fort Myers is tops on our spring-training wish list; Gammons: Nats present spring-training wish list to Lee County; Is Nats, Brevard County marriage over?; Nats go public with desire for new spring-training facility; Nats, Astros eying new Osceola County spring-training complex; Could Cards, Marlins leave Treasure Coast?; Kasten: Nats definitely looking for new spring home
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