Cape Coral and Southwest Florida Feature Stories

Red Sox Spring Training Dreams

Red Sox Spring Training

Red Sox Spring Training dreams have been coming true for over 19 seasons at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida.

When you visit, arrive early to enjoy the full experience of this annual Southwest Florida rite of spring. Enjoy the activity buzzing around the food and beer vendors. Bud and Bud Light. Super Dogs and Italian Sausages. Peanuts. Ice Cream. Cracker Jacks.

Stop in at the Red Sox Baseball Store and peruse the wide selection of team merchandise and memorabilia. Baseball caps. T-shirts. Hoodies. Decals. Games. Foam hands. Plush animals.

As you meander through the crowded stadium, enjoy the snippets of overheard conversation, the scent of fresh cut grass, and the excitement of the fans. Children with adult-sized catcher’s mitts -- hoping to catch a foul ball. Adoring teenage girls in head-to-toe Red Sox regalia. Beer-bellied men trading statistics, talking the jargon and acting the part. Stadium ushers, more friendly than you’d expect, offering helpful advice, smiles and salutations. Attention-starved divorcees flamboyantly clamoring for attention with age-inappropriate acts of temporary de-individuation. Senior citizens moving slowly, blocking quick access to stadium destinations. Parents over-parenting, pushing their children to relate to the all-American pastime. Children engaged, at once, and then bored, immediately thereafter.

As the team appears on the field to warm up, autographs and phone opportunities often present themselves. Getting up close and personal with baseball celebrities is easier than usual during the laid-back days of Spring Training.

As the game grows closer, the energy level builds and the team mascot does what he can to get the crowd engaged -- surely sweating, cavorting through the thick Florida air in a thicker coat of plastic fur.

Before you know it, well known players are feet away, preparing for their spots in the batting line-up. The Southwest Florida sun glistens off bruised and battered batting helmets. The crowd chants and roars in support of the team they came to see. The baseball whistles through the humid air, slapping into the expectant leather of a well-worn catcher’s mitt -- and, every so often, the bat makes contact and the crowd rises to their feet in unison, mentally wishing the ball through the air...and right out of the stadium. This is what we came to see.

In related news:

Work has already begun on the new Red Sox Spring Training facility, an 11,000 seat stadium located off Daniels Parkway in Fort Myers. The new stadium is loosely modeled on the design of the original Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.

This has been a controversial project, from the beginning, in Lee County.

The estimated cost of the new stadium is approximated at 78 million dollars. These funds will originally be financed through federally subsidized bonds and, then, repaid through a tax on hotel stays in Lee County.

Although local paper, the Fort Myers News Press, reports that the stadium project will create over 500 jobs and put over 30 million dollars into local pockets -- some have characterized this project as “outrageous and wasteful”, while others have concern that no concerted effort has been made by Lee County to find a new tenant for the City of Palms park, which isn’t paid off yet, itself.

The Cape Coral Barometer welcomes your opinion on these issues. Feel free to comment and make your voice heard in our online poll.

Writing, photography and video by Eric Taubert

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