Will Sarasota become the new spring training home of the Red Sox? Or will they remain in the Ft. Myers area for the foreseeable future?
It seems to depend on the day and which city’s officials are asked.
The Fort Myers News-Press reported on its website today that Lee County commissioner Ray Judah met for an hour with Red Sox chief operating officer Mike Dee this morning and came away optimistic at the county’s chances to retain the team rather than lose it to Sarasota.
“I was extremely elated,” Judah told the newspaper.
City of Palms Park, which is in Ft. Myers in Lee County, has been the Red Sox’ spring training home since 1993. The Sox are unlikely to remain at that site, but Judah said he told Dee about “five developers who are interested in teaming up with the Red Sox to build a new facility,” according to the News-Press website.
This report comes a day after Dee, chief executive officer Larry Lucchino, and other members of Sox management met with Sarasota city officials in a luxury box during the Sox’ 2-1 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
According to the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Dee invited Sarasota city commissioner Fredd Atkins, city manager Robert Bartolotta and county commissioner Joe Barbetta “to meet the team’s top brass, who will ultimately decide whether the Red Sox move their spring training operations to Sarasota or remain in the Fort Myers area.”
The newspaper noted that they were joined in the luxury box by 10 members of Citizens for Sox, a Sarasota group working to get the team to make the move. The group was founded by Elsie Souza, a New Bedford native, who was in attendance.
Earlier in the day, a crew of 10 Red Sox executives, including Dee and Lucchino, toured Ed Smith Stadium and Payne Park in Sarasota.
Sunday, the Naples News quoted an email from the Red Sox to city officials outlining the specifics of the team’s demands from Sarasota. The paper reported that “the team does not want to pay upfront costs to build a new stadium (now estimated at $60 million); the Red Sox keep all the revenues from games, and the team holds on to the naming rights of the ballpark.”
Upon leaving the ballpark Tuesday, Atkins, the city commissioner, told the Herald Tribune he looks forward to hearing from the team.
“We’ll go home and see if the Red Sox really want to make a deal,” he said.