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Lee County approves deal

Posted by Amalie Benjamin  October 28, 2008 11:08 AM

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The Lee County Board of Commissioners approved a proposal by a 3-1 margin today to build a new spring training facility for the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla.

Red Sox chief operating officer Mike Dee was at the meeting and present for the vote. Red Sox management now has to decide whether it will approve the proposal. The Fort Myers News-Press website reported that Dee expects to have an answer from owner John Henry and other team officials in "a week or so."

According to the News-Press, the plan calls for a 9,999-seat stadium that will resemble Fenway Park. With berm seating and standing-room-only space, capacity should approach 12,000. Neither the county nor Dee wanted to be specific about an exact location for the new facility until proposals came in from developers, the News-Press reported.

Lee County commissioner Brian Bigelow, the lone dissenting vote, expressed concern for the future of City of Palms Park, the Red Sox' current home located in downtown Fort Myers.

"I would feel better if we had someone to co-locate in City of Palms Park," Bigelow told the newspaper. He said another team has not yet been contacted. The ballpark has been the Red Sox' spring training home since 1993.

The Sox had used the threat of an out clause in their contract to flirt with going to Sarasota, Fla., for a new facility there. But it wasn't a perfect option, since there the Red Sox would have a split facility between two locations, which they already had in Fort Myers.

There does seem to be an interesting part of the Fort Myers situation, which is that they're relying on a property owner to donate 80 acres of land on which to build a new stadium.

(Chad Finn of the Globe staff contributed to this report.)

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