Are the Nationals ready to hit the beaches of Ft Myers?
The Washington Nationals have made no secret that while they like the people from Vieira they want to move their spring training site to another city. Long bus trips to play spring training games have become a problem as most of the Major League Baseball teams training in Florida are on the west coast. Their present home Space Coast Stadium is really not close to any major Florida city.
The team would play in The City of Palms Park that became open after the Boston Red Sox moved to their brand new $78 million dollar Jet Blue Park. If the Nationals can get a deal done with Lee County they will be in the same town with the aforementioned Red Sox as well as the Minnesota Twins who also call the county home.
It would be a move that allow the Nationals to be within 90 miles or so of the Rays in Port Charlotte, Pirates in Bradenton, Orioles in Sarasota, the Yankees in Tampa, the Phillies in Clearwater and the Blue Jays in Dunedin.
The other key to the possible move is that now that the Nationals expect to be a contender they need to be more accessible to their fans.Direct flights from Washington to Ft. Myers are very easy to find. There is no doubt that from a fan perspective that if the team were to move to Ft. Myers it would be a plus.
Visitors from the Washington area could see four teams play and only have to drive a little over 40 minutes.
The City of Palms Park was built for the Red Sox back in 1992 and seats 8,000 fans. It is a very fan-friendly park. Boston wanted and really needed a bigger place to play and the county built Jet Blue Stadium so the park has only been empty for a year.
The Nationals have been eyeing City of Palms Park for at least three years, and they have submitted to the county the changes they would like to see done to the facility. The county does not have a great deal of money to spend on improvements.
But the talks have now formally begun and the process is in motion.
It should be noted that the Nationals and the Lee County deal is not exclusively as Washington keeps open their options to look at Melbourne (a suburb of Orlando) where the Astros used to train. Houston who is now in nearby Kissimmee could be looking to join their in state rivals Rangers in Arizona.