How many hits do Fort Myers taxpayers have to take before City of Palms Park becomes the field of dreams it was promised?
It’s a typical day at the City of Palms Park—mostly quiet and empty.
But up until 2012, it was a bustling place for fans to watch the Red Sox practice.
“Part of the reason it was built at the time was to revitalize that part of town and it did to some extent, but the Red Sox wanted a bigger stadium and they got it,” said Robert Henderson who lives in Fort Myers.
“It looks like a nice park,” said Billy Saum of Fort Myers, “but I haven’t seen it be used for a whole lot.”
No, but it does cost a whole lot, with not much in return.
The county spends about $500,000 annually maintaining the park while the revenue stream is only about $6,000.
Although the county has ownership of the park, the city still pays more than a million dollars a year on the bond taken out to build the stadium.
Michael Cappolla used to watch the Sox there he says, but now, he’s frustrated with how much it’s still costing taxpayers 26 years after it opened.
“Obviously not enough people use it and sits there most of the time empty, so I can’t see any other choice,” he said.
In a letter sent to the county, the city is requesting the stadium back since it hasn’t been used for its original purpose—a Major League training facility.
The city would take on any debt and reimburse the county for improvements, as long as the county pays for the park to be demolished.
“Now they’re in a situation where they’re just bouncing this loss back and forth,” said Johnnie Mason of Fort Myers.
Once again, another frustrating cost to the people who live there.
“It really doesn’t make a lot of sense that the county themselves took on a business venture and with plenty of time to realize it wasn’t a profitable idea from the start, but they continued to run it and continued to do it at the taxpayers expense,” said Mason. “Even more boggling is the fact that the city would want it back and incur more debt.”
The county commissioners will be discussing transferring the deed back to the city at their Tuesday meeting.