Twins' spring home in line for makeover

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 26, 2012 - 9:38 PM
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Fort Myers Miracle lefthander Pat Dean delivered a pitch in the fading light.

Photo: Leah Millis, Special to the Star Tribune

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The Twins' spring training home in Fort Myers, Fla., would get a $45.5 million facelift to renovate Hammond Stadium and enhance the surrounding facilities, with the team agreeing to a new 30-year lease, under a proposal presented Friday to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners.

Hammond Stadium's seating capacity would increase from 8,000 to 9,300, with wider concourses, renovated concession stands and restrooms, a 360-degree walkway for fans around the field, and more shaded areas.

The Twins would pay $13.8 million toward the project, partly through an increase in rent from $300,000 to $500,000 per year, and through the construction of an on-site dormitory that would include 55 sleeping rooms for players and staff. The rest of the tab would be paid through a county bond issue, with the state of Florida kicking in $15 million over the course of the 30-year lease.

The Lee County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the matter Nov. 6, and a report in the Fort Myers New Press quoted one commissioner predicting the measure would pass 4-to-1.

Bill Smith, the Twins former general manager who now works as a special assistant to the team's president and GM, has been the Twins' point person on the project.

"We're excited, we're pleased," Smith said. "We think there's a very good package of improvements to the ballpark that will make this thing one of the best in the game."

The new lease would take effect when the renovation is completed, and Smith said the Twins hope that's in time for spring training in 2015.

The plans would add an additional practice field, build a new weight room on the major league side of the complex and add a hydrotherapy area. The 55 dorm rooms would equal what they would use throughout the season with their Class A Florida State League affiliate and rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate, both based in Fort Myers.

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