City of Palms Park could become a professional soccer stadium

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

Southwest Florida is kicking around the idea of bringing a professional soccer team to Fort Myers.

That’s just one idea that came out of a community meeting Wednesday night about future plans for City of Palms Park in Fort Myers.

It was once the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox. It has also been used by Florida SouthWestern State College for their ball games.

Now, it’s up to the community to decide what they want to see here.

Instead of seeing home runs, City of Palms Park seems a bit run-down.

The City of Fort Myers wants your feedback. They’re collecting feedback right now on the city’s website.

“This venue is sitting right in the middle of midtown, so it’s such an important venue, obviously for the development or the redevelopment of midtown,” said Liz Bello-Matthews, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the City of Fort Myers, “so we want to make sure we attract the right retail, the right establishments, you know, the right restaurants. That kind of thing. The question is, does the community really want that? What does the community want to see here?”

The city is floating a lot of possibilities for people to consider, options that include dining, shopping, concerts, museums and parks.

But WINK spoke with one developer who already has a plan in place.

He wants to bring professional soccer to Southwest Florida.

“Shearson Sports Opportunity Fund is the mechanism behind the ownership behind the MLS next pro team,” said Bill Gramer, vice president of Jacobs Engineering, “and they’ve been in discussions with Major League Soccer in New York to develop this team. They’ve got the OK, and they’ve got everything in place to move forward with this, and so now, they’re looking for a home to bring this to. And so, this is an awesome opportunity to reinvent something that’s not being utilized right now.”

Gramer said his proposal would keep the stadium in place and change the field from baseball to soccer.

The proposal would also create more fields next door, which can be used for youth sports. The idea is already appealing to some.

“In the state of Florida, we got almost 29% Latino and Haitian,” said Lodovic Kimble, a Fort Myers resident. “We should capitalize on that and turn this into a soccer field and bring a soccer league here.”

Others like the idea, but they hope the field can also be utilized for other things like concerts and sporting events.

“It’s important to look at a park that is multi-sports, so you know, soccer would probably be number one,” said Jerry Miller, a Fort Myers resident.

That feedback will be presented to the city council next month before requests for proposals are opened up.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.