Spring training is on deck in Southwest Florida. Preparations are underway at the stadiums in Southwest Florida, and in just a couple of weeks, pitchers and catchers begin ushering in the 2023 MLB season.
First responders stepped up to the plate after Hurricane Ian using their spring training stadium, JetBlue Park at Fenway South, as their base camp.
Crews inside JetBlue Park at Fenway South got to work on Monday. They were mowing the field, painting the outfield fence, and fine-tuning the field in time for spring training.
Shawn Smith, the Florida operations general manager for the Boston Red Sox, told WINK News the ballpark is ready to welcome fans back.
“We’ve been able to develop schedules over period of months to address things that need to be done on time. So now we’re doing a lot of the touch-up work. You know, the painting, the drywall patching, you kind of bump a door here and there,” Smith said.
JetBlue Park and the Lee County Sports Complex had to make serious repairs after the storm. A Lee County spokesperson told WINK News each stadium got an engineering assessment and FEMA site inspection.
Some of the repairs included fencing, lighting, roofs, and exterior siding. Nevertheless, there are some reminders of the storm around each ballpark. But the county expects repairs to be done before the Twins and Red Sox throw out the first pitch.
Mary Jane Lawton, like other fans, are excited to watch their teams play in the months ahead, even if it is in enemy territory.
“We’re big Yankees fans, and they’re playing in March. So we wanted to make sure we got tickets,” Lawton said.
Lee County ad the Red Sox have a deal with FEMA that calls for FEMA to foot the bill to ensure the stadium is as it was before Ian.
Additionally, WINK News heard from the Atlanta Braves that CoolToday Park in North Port suffered millions of dollars in damages. Despite the damage, CoolToday Park is slowly but surely coming together.