Shopping center to break lull in area around Jet Blue Park

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – A Publix shopping center is expected to open near Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers.

The shopping center, slated for the land on the corner of Daniels Parway and Paul J. Doherty Parkway, could encourage other businesses to consider the area as thousands are being drawn to Jet Blue Park for the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins spring training seasons.

On Thursday, Red Sox pitchers and catchers reported to the baseball park. Team workouts begin Friday, which is when many fans will get their first glimpses of the players in Southwest Florida. Fred Marzetta is one of those fans. He is visiting Fort Myers from Massachusetts.

“I flew in specifically to come down and go to Jet Blue,” he said Thursday.

Droves of other Red Sox fans flocked to Jet Blue park Thursday to buy tickets and merchandise.

There are a lot of dollars that come to Southwest Florida in the six weeks of spring training, said Colleen Depasquale of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a huge tourism boost,” she said. “These teams each bring in about $26 million of economic impact into the community, so that ripples through everywhere.”

Despite the millions of dollars ushered in during the training season, there has not been much investment in the area surrounding Jet Blue Park.

The baseball park costs $80 million, but much of the land near it is wooded and lacking business.

The groundbreaking of the new Publix — only a few months out — may signal more development in the future.

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